The small-budget Oakland Athletics are baseball’s best team at the break in a division featuring some of the sport’s highest-paid stars. The San Francisco Giants are right in the chase for the N.L. West title despite recent stumbles.
Bay Area baseball has delivered a stellar first half. It’s only mid-July and there is already talk of a special October and, perhaps, the first Bay Bridge Series since 1989.
California could have four teams still playing into October. The two organizations in Northern California have set the tone.
“It’d be hard to find two teams in the same city doing as well as we are,” said Giants right-hander Tim Hudson, who began his career with the A’s. “It’s really exciting for all of the fans from both sides of the Bay.”
Oakland, a major league-best 59-36 and the two-time defending A.L. West champion, produced a pair of six-game winning streaks behind its reliable starting pitching. And general manager Billy Beane pulled off a July 4 trade with the Cubs that brought Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to a deep rotation that lost Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin to season-ending elbow injuries that required surgery.
“We could probably go seven deep,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Tommy Milone’s in Triple-A right now and with the numbers he’s put up, it means we’re creating a lot of depth to withstand whatever could potentially happen coming up in the second half.”
Oakland had its most wins ever before the All-Star break, and its six All-Stars were most for the A’s since 1975.
“They’ve done a great job of stacking this team and this organization with guys who can get the job done at this level,” Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick said.
The Giants, winners of the 2010 and ’12 World Series, missed the playoffs last year and hope they can get back on a roll like the team across the bay. At 52-43, they are one game behind the N.L. West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, and Tim Lincecum has won four straight starts for the first time since April 2010.
“No question, the Giants have really established something here for a long period of time,” Melvin said. “It’s difficult to not only win a World Series, win two out of four, and be in the position they’re in right now. It could be really exciting for the Bay Area.”
San Francisco led the N.L. West by 9 1/2 games when it was 42-21 on June 8, but has struggled since then. The Giants were outscored 19-7 in losing three out of four in their recent interleague series with the A’s.
“Their boat’s just kind of been going in a steady direction and we’re just trying to get ours on that path as well,” said Lincecum.
Royals make deal
Kansas City acquired veteran reliever Jason Frasor from Texas for Triple-A All-Star right-hander Spencer Patton. Frasor was 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 38 appearances this season.