Oakland A’s manager Mark Kotsay pictured here during 2022 Spring Training Cactus League will lead the A’s into Oracle Park in San Francisco for a two game series beginning Tue Apr 26, 2022 (photo from the San Francisco Chronicle)
By Jerry Feitelberg
SAN FRANCISCO–After playing 17 straight games, the Oakland A’s have a day off on Monday to rest up before facing the San Francisco Giants in the annual Battle of the Bay interleague series. The A’s were 9-8 in that stretch and surprised many baseball experts.
Many still think the youthful A’s will end up near the bottom of the standings in the AL West. A’s manager Mark Kotsay doesn’t feel that way. He knows he has some talent on his team, and he implores his players never to quit.
The young A’s have quite a task ahead of them. They have to find a way to make up for the loss of key players such as Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and pitchers Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea.
This past weekend, the A’s offense was nearly non-existent in the series with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers took two out of three from Oakland. Cole Irvin’s great pitching helped the A’s earn a win in Sunday’s game.
The A’s lineup will feature catcher Sean Murphy. Either Billy McKinney or Christian Bethancourt will play first base. McKinney can also play in the outfield, and Bethancourt can also catch. Tony Kemp has been busy for Oakland this season.
Kemp is usually at second base. He has played several games as the left fielder. Christian Lopes or Nick Allen are backup choices to play second. Elvis Andrus will be at shortstop. A’s manager Mark Kotsay will use Nick Allen to backup Andrus. Sheldon Neuse will be at third base.
Neuse can play other infield positions, too. Rookie Cristian Pache will be in centerfield. Stephen Piscotty is off the IL and will resume his position in right field. Chad Pinder is on the IL. Ramon Laureano, currently serving a 27-game suspension for using a banned substance, will be eligible to return to the A’s on May 8th.
The A’s bullpen is a work in progress. Yusmeiro Petit, who was a stalwart in the bullpen, is gone. Lefty Jake Diekman now works for the Boston Red Sox. Sergio Romo left as a free agent. Lou Trivino, the closer, is on the 10-day IL.
Dany Jimenez has the job for the time being. The new names in the bullpen are righties Domingo Acevedo and Dany Jimenez. The A’s have four left relievers. They are A.J.Puk, Kirby Snead, Sam Moll, and Adam Kolarek.
The Giants swept the Washington Nationals three straight in the Nation’s Capitol. The Giants have started the season and are 11-5 this season. The Giants are playing a one-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee Monday before returning home to face the A’s for two games starting Tuesday night.
The Giants, who won a team record 107 games last year, had most of their key personnel return for the 2022 season. However, several of their key players are on the injured list. They include third baseman Evan Longoria, second baseman Tommy LaStella, outfielder La Monte Wade, Jr, Steven Duggar, Mike Yastrzemski, and pitchers Anthony DeSclafini, Alex Cobb, and Matthew Boyd.
Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler is fortunate to have players on his squad who can play different positions. Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, and Mauricio Dubon all can play well at different positions in the Giants’ lineup.
The Giants signed Palo Alto product Joc Pederson to a one-year deal. Pederson, a member of two World Series championship teams, the Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves, has started the season well. He has hit five dingers and is hitting over .300.
Even with all the players on the IL, the Giants can put a very good lineup on the field. Brandon Belt, the Captain, will be at first base. Thairo Estrada will be at second. Brandon Crawford, who won the Gold Glove last year, will be at shortstop, and Wilmer Flores will play third base. Joc Pederson will be in left field, Austin Slater in center, and Darin Ruf in right field.
The probable pitchers for the two-game series look to be righty Daulton Jefferies going for Oakland Tuesday night. Jefferies has pitched well in the early going. He is 1-2 and owns a sparkling 1.17 ERA. The Giants’ lefty, Carlos Rodon, has also been impressive.
Rodon, who came over to San Francisco as a free agent from the Chicago White Sox, is 2-0 with a minuscule ERA of 1.06. He has struck out 29 hitters, too.
The A’s Paul Blackburn will pitch Wednesday night. Blackburn is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. The Giants have not announced their starter yet. The Giants have three starters on the IL right now.
The teams are meeting very early in the season. They usually don’t meet until later. Nevertheless, it should be an entertaining set. There will be a lot of fans in the seats at Oracle Park. The first game of the series will start at 6:45 pm Tuesday.