After a series win over Colorado Sunday afternoon, the Giants traveled across the Bay to lavish Oakland Coliseum to start a four game set with the Oakland A's. Daniel Straily did his best Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Bob Welch, Dave Stewart imitation Monday afternoon on the Giants. Straily threw six innings of one run baseball Monday afternoon as the A's did just enough off Madison Bumgarner and George Kontos offensively for a 4-1 win.
The A's arrived from Houston, fresh off a third consecutive series sweep of the Astros and came into this game winners with eight wins in their last nine. Despite missing the left handed bat of Josh Reddick, Oakland has kept the wins rolling with timely hits and a reliable bullpen. Josh Donaldson smashed a two run homer Monday, on a day when both teams lofted deep fly balls that just missed going over the fences, and Yoenis Cespedes drove a George Kontos curveball for a two run double. Straily, lefty fireballer Sean Doolittle, and closer Grant Balfour sealed the deal.
Straily began the game retiring 14 of the first 15 batters. You wouldn't guess he had already been sent down to the minors earlier this season and was brought back to replace oft-injured Brett Anderson. Straily was a nice find for Oakland in seven starts last season and was named a starter in the rotation in 2013 because of Bartolo Colon's PED suspension. He mixed it up nicely giving up just four hits to Giants hitters not including Angel Pagan, who did not start due to a bothersome hamstring injury.
Another revelation for Oakland has been third baseman Josh Donaldson, a career .267 hitter in parts of two seasons. A 27 year old former catcher who was part of a trade from the Chicago Cubs for Rich Harden, Donaldson has been given the everyday third base job and succeeded. His .326 average with seven home runs and 31 RBIs gives the A's hope for a mainstay at the position with recent implosions like Kevin Kouzmanoff since the Eric Chavez era ended. Judging from the way Chavez has produced for the Yankees and now the Diamondbacks this season, it would not have been deemed moronic to see the A's bring him back had it not been for the emergence of Donaldson.
Matt Cain and Bartolo Colon will not start in this series, but Michael Kickham has been called up to make the start Tuesday against Jarrod Parker. The 24 year old lefty was rumored for over a week to be the call up to replace Ryan Vogelsong, or at least be the first pitcher to have a shot in the rotation. It looks like Bruce Bochy would like to keep Chad Gaudin in that coveted long reliever role a la Guillermo Mota from recent past. Kickham, a sixth round choice out of Missouri State has a 4.33 ERA at Triple A in 2013, but the minor leagues do not have many big league ready options. What better debut to make than at O.Co Coliseum instead of AT&T Park, but Kickham will probably be too excited to care about the venue.
The scene shifts to San Francisco on Wednesday. A scene that will not include a tarped off upper deck, foul territory equivalent to a 20 yard out pattern in football, and dugouts that resemble a little league field with one bathroom stall and a rusted water fountain to boot. Tim Lincecum and lefty Tommy Milone go on Wednesday. Thursday will see another afternoon game with a pair of pitchers who grew up in southern California. Barry Zito will oppose El Cajon's A.J. Griffin. Zito has not fared well against his original team. He posts a 2-4 record with a 7.16 ERA in six career starts.
It's unfortunate the schedule does not allow for San Francisco to stay home and play that short two game series with Toronto after Oakland. Instead, they have to travel to the Midwest to face St. Louis and go back home to host the Blue Jays. The month of June will test the Giants road record with quality opponents at each stop. First they have make sure their competitive smaller market opponent gets put in their place.