OAKLAND — The Bridge Trophy is heading across the Bay to San Francisco. For the second straight day the Oakland Athletics held a late lead over the San Francisco Giants, and for the second straight day their bullpen coughed it up.
“They get ahead early, we come back, take the lead, they come back, it goes back and forth,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin of Sunday’s seesaw affair. “And then the seventh ended up being our undoing tonight.”
San Francisco held on for a 5-4 victory thanks to a big day from Evan Longoria, clinching the annual Bay Bridge Series and spoiling an afternoon where the A’s honored their 1989 World Series team and announced the retirement of Dave Stewart’s jersey.
The deciding rally in the seventh inning was gift-wrapped by the A’s, who led 4-3 at the time. An error by Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson, followed by a walk and a hit batsman by reliever Jake Diekman, loaded the bases for the Giants, and Longoria capitalized with a grounder through the left side of the infield for a two-run single.
“I was actually staring at the six-hole the whole time I was on deck,” said Longoria, who waited through an 11-pitch at-bat by teammate Buster Posey before pouncing on the first pitch he saw from Oakland reliever Blake Treinen.
“Blake comes in, gets a strikeout, trying to get a groundball, he does get a groundball from Longoria, just ends up being in a hole. And that ended up being the difference in the game,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Oakland has now blown 24 saves this season, most in the American League and one off the major league lead, and is now 9-15 in games in which the bullpen blows a lead. However, their relievers’ other stats are mostly strong, including an ERA that ranked eighth in the majors entering Sunday.
“We still feel like we have a really good bullpen, we just haven’t pitched up to the capabilities that we’re able to,” said Melvin. “At times it looks like we’re getting things settled, and then at times not, so unfortunately we’ll just continue to grind.”
The late meltdown wasted another effective outing by left-hander Brett Anderson, who went six innings and allowed three runs, registering his 16th quality start in 26 appearances. Only 15 major-league starters have more than that, including A’s teammate Mike Fiers.
One of the runs against Anderson also came courtesy of Longoria, who collected his 1,000th career RBI on a solo homer in the third inning.
“It’s a proud moment,” said Longoria, who is now one of 11 active players to reach 1,000 RBIs. “It’s not something that I ever thought I would do.”
The A’s received some help from the long ball as well, as Mark Canha went deep twice against Giants rookie starter Logan Webb, who grew up an A’s fan, going to games at the Coliseum with his grandparents. Canha, a Bay Area native himself who grew up as a Giants fan, now has a career-high 22 homers this year, and he also added a great running catch in center field in the first inning to save a run.
“He just continues to get better and better as the season goes along,” said Melvin of Canha. “We’ve seen him good here before when given the opportunities and the at-bats, but I don’t know that he’s ever been this good. Defensively he’s terrific, offensively obviously he’s on fire right now. He’s keeping us going for sure.”
Also driving in runs for the A’s were second baseman Corban Joseph and right fielder Chad Pinder, both during a second-inning rally. For the Giants, second baseman Donovan Solano went 4-for-4 with an RBI, and catcher Stephen Vogt knocked in another with a sacrifice fly.
Oakland generated some excitement in the bottom of the ninth, as Josh Phegley doubled with two outs to put the tying run in scoring position. He was initially ruled to have been thrown out at second, but a replay review overturned the call. However, the next batter grounded out to end the game.
“Obviously I wish we would’ve won those games, these games mean a lot to me. But it was a great atmosphere,” said Canha of the weekend’s games between the cross-Bay rivals. “It tends to get rowdy in years past and it seemed like everyone was kind of coming together this year. It was very much a loving, Bay Area-y atmosphere that was fun to be a part of.”
Injury notes: Melvin announced after the game that right fielder Stephen Piscotty would go on the injured list Monday with a high ankle sprain. There is not yet a timetable for his return. Meanwhile, catcher Chris Herrmann exited Sunday’s game early with a groin contusion.