By: Malaika Bobino
Oakland, CA – The Oakland Athletics swept the Houston Astros this weekend to record their fifth sweep of the season. They returned home for the Bay Bridge series against the San Francisco Giants and extended their winning streak.
Memorial Day festivities began with an early game that brought a sold out crowd across the bridge for a rivalry game in the Bay Area. Closer Grant Balfour sealed the A’s 4-1 victory over the Giants for the first of a four game series split between Oakland and San Francisco.
“Hitters don’t like it when they get punched out,” said Balfour. “Pitchers don’t like it when they walk guys.”
The Giants got the short end of the stick today when Madison Bumgarner walked five batters that resulted in the A’s offense taking advantage. He was charged with four runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and one hit batter.
“I tried to throw a fastball down an away,” Madison said of the pitch to Josh Donaldson. “The ball came back over the plate a little bit but it was still down and he put a good swing on it.”
Donaldson’s two-run homer in the fourth was the crusade for Oakland’s offense. Bumgarner walked the leadoff batter to start the inning and surrendered two back-to-back singles to both Seth Smith and Derek Norris. He loaded the bases by walking Adam Rosales before striking out Coco Crisp to end the inning.
It was the sixth walk in the sixth frame that ended his time on the mound. After his departure George Kontos entered the game to face Yoenis Cespedes who hit a two-run double off the right-center field wall to give them a 4-1 lead.
“Kontos just left a curve up at the wrong time,” said San Francisco’s manager Bruce Bochy. “The pitch just got away from him.”
The A’s backed Dan Straily’s second solid start along with a scoreless bullpen that was led by Grant’s 11th save of the season. Straily’s back-to-back quality starts follow his best career outing against Texas this past Tuesday, when he tossed seven shutout innings. Today he pitched six solid innings giving up four hits, one run (earned), one walk and strikeout.
“You can see, early innings, you can tell he’s got a lot more confidence, the way he’s carrying himself,” Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin said. He’s throwing a lot of strikes, which is key for him to get ahead to set up his slider and his changeup. You see a lot of late swings on his fastball, and that all starts by getting ahead.”
“We have the knack for winning the close ones,” said Dan. “That’s what we do when we play well, play good defense and get big hits.”
The A’s defense was outstanding. They left no room for error including a scare by Cespedes when he did a somersault in left-center field while diving for Brandon Crawford’s single in the fifth. Yoenis was uninjured but had he landed any differently it would have probably cost Oakland another player back on the disabled list.
The Giants tried to rally back in the fifth inning when Buster Posey grounded out and scored Gregor Blanco to cut the lead in half 2-1. But San Francisco’s offense could not find their at-bats. They have struggled away from home all year, winning 9 of 23 games.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Crawford said referring to the Memorial Day sellout. “It was a good day to support our troops. It just didn’t turn out the way we wanted.”