The Battle Of The Bay: Giants And A's Force Game Fives
In baseball, the phrase refers to the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. Right now, it seems to more accurately reflect the determined fight that both teams are making merely to keep their postseason dreams alive.
For both Bay Area teams, the thrilling prospect of a rematch was quelled almost instantly. Both teams abruptly fell behind 0-2 in their division series but, in the face of elimination, have threatened to bring their Cinderella stories to fruition in a pivotal Game 5.
The Giants seem to be channeling the misfit team of 2010, except without the unexpected success. This time, they’ve been living up to the predictions offered by sports analysts: superb pitching that can’t support an ultimately lackluster offense. But even the first two games against the Cincinnati Reds indicated that the usually pitch-perfect Giants didn’t have enough of their strength to compensate for their weakness.
The series against the Reds could not have started off worse. Giants ace Matt Cain surrendered the first postseason runs of his career in an unusually brief five innings. The following night, Giants pitching gave up nine runs. The offense never had a chance. With hardly any positives to draw on, the Giants' team that has developed a pattern of winning postseason games on the road flew to Cincinnati on the brink of elimination.
The comeback didn’t come easy. The Giants were on the losing end of a no-hitter going into the sixth inning despite somehow managing to score a run. In extra innings, the Giants capitalized on the unsexy yet effective ground attack when speedy Joaquin Arias beat out a play at first, enabling MVP-hopeful Buster Posey to score. And in a truly freaky return, Tim Lincecum, who has struggled the entire season, emerged from the bullpen to pick up teammate Barry Zito in an 8-3 victory.
Alternatively, the Oakland A’s went into the playoffs seemingly impenetrable. They overcame a 13-game deficit to topple the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West, living up to the underdog "Moneyball" fame that has been reinvigorated by Hollywood as of late.
A home run by outfielder Coco Crisp in the first inning of Game 1 seemed to set the stage for the A’s, but their momentum was derailed quickly by Detroit Tiger ace Justin Verlander. The A’s failed again to take advantage of an early lead in Game 2 and let costly errors in the late innings determine the final box score.
But hopes of a comeback were still alive, if feeble, as Oakland headed back to its home turf, and looked even stronger after left-hander Brett Anderson tossed six innings of shutout baseball against a team that had hardly put up any zeros during the regular season. The Bay Area witnessed true magic on Wednesday night when Oakland, with its back up against the wall and down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, made a historic comeback.
The Oakland A’s already christened themselves the comeback kids with 14 walk-off victories in the regular season, and Coco Crisp tacked on the 15th Wednesday night with a game-winning RBI single when the team needed one most.
Both teams have scratched their way from an almost bottomless 0-2 deficit to a clean slate. In the National League, it’s never been done before, so the Giants have a chance to make history. And for the A’s, it feels equally momentous.
It’ll be hard not to root for both Bay Area teams when they take the field in a battle for survival, especially when you want to see what would happen if both comeback kids came back to the Bay Area where it all started.