ORACLE PARK — Monday’s middle game of the three-game Bay Bridge Series was delayed an hour and 27 minutes by rain. Seagulls circled and flocked over the field in the middle of the sixth. They, too, seemed ready for the San Francisco Giants’ second putrid offensive effort in a row to be over with.
The Giants and the Oakland Athletics were equally inept at the plate, combining for just two hits through the first six innings, but in the seventh, both teams came alive, although the birds nearly outnumbered fans remaining at that point, thanks to intermittent showers that didn’t stop until well after 9 p.m.
Oakland and San Francisco combined for eight runs on eight hits in the frame, but despite Erik Kratz’s first big hit in a Giants uniform, the A’s were able to eke out a 5-4 win and take their second game in a row, a game in which nothing seemingly was decided for either team, as both try to whittle their rosters down by Thursday at noon Eastern.
Following the game, the Giants optioned left-hander Andrew Suarez — who started 29 games as a rookie last season — to Triple-A, while trading Chris Stratton to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Williams Jerez. Those moves — more than the game itself — gave insight into what San Francisco’s rotation will look like. It will almost certainly be led off by Madison Bumgarner, followed by Drew Pomeranz (who will pitch in the series finale on Tuesday), then Dereck Rodriguez (pencilled in for Saturday, the third game against the San Diego Padres), and followed by Jeff Samardzija and Derek Holland.
Before the game, Oakland named its first four starters — Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson and Frankie Montas — with the contenders for the fifth spot — Chris Bassitt and Aaron Brooks — both pitching the Bay Bridge finale on Tuesday. The Giants didn’t name their rotation, but instead of starting projected No. 2 Pomeranz, elected to go with No. 3 prospect Shaun Anderson for his first big league start this spring (he’d only thrown 2 1/3 big league innings in Arizona).
Anderson sat in the mid-90s, but the A’s took him deep into counts and forced him to throw 28 pitches in the first inning. During that frame, Oakland’s Matt Chapman drew a one-out walk, and then Anderson gave up a single to Stephen Piscotty and a two-out RBI bouncer inside the first base line to Jurickson Profar.
A 2016 third-round pick of the Washington Nationals, Anderson was a reliever for his entire college career at Florida before being converted to a starter by the Nats in his first professional season. He’s come a long way, earning a July promotion last season to the Sacramento River Cats after representing the Giants at the 2018 All-Star Futures Game.
Once Anderson calmed down in the second, he needed just 12 pitches to retire the side in order. He worked all three of his pitches to great effect, throwing his changeup for strikes and getting swings and misses with his slider. He finished retiring three straight, going three innings with three strikeouts, a walk, a hit and an earned run. He threw 57 pitches, 37 for strikes.
In Profar’s first go at first base since Matt Olson’s injury — and indeed his first action at first this spring — the second-baseman-by-trade was a mixed bag. He booted a hot shot by Joe Panik in the third, but after a Matt Chapman 5-3 twin killing in the midst of a heavy downpour, he snared a liner to Brandon Belt to end the frame.
San Francisco went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and squandered two stolen bases.
Oakland finally broke things open in the top of the seventh with four runs on three doubles and a pop-fly RBI single by Ramon Laureano, with the final blow coming off the bat of Mark Canha. The childhood Giants fan supplied the game-winning homer in the regular-season edition of the rivalry series, and on Monday, clocked a two-run double to Triples Alley for the A’s final tallies.
The Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the frame on an infield single by Tom Murphy and a pair of walks against left-hander Ryan Buchter, and a line-drive single to right by Steven Duggar broke a string of 16 scoreless innings against the A’s. Duggar has been the highlight of a somewhat lackluster outfield competition this spring, and with a 1-for-3 day with a walk and an RBI, continued a strong spring. He’s now hitting .326 in 14 spring training games.
Buchter faced five men and didn’t retire a batter, walking in a run before he was lifted for J.B. Wendelken, who promptly gave up a two-run single to left by Kratz, the 2018 National League Division Series cult hero with his 13th team in 17 seasons acquired on Sunday from Milwaukee and getting his first action with San Francisco. Wendelken then retired the side. San Francisco wouldn’t threaten again.