Rivals with more at stake than merely regional bragging rights go head-to-head when the San Francisco Giants and host Oakland Athletics open a three-game interleague series on Friday night.
Giants left-hander Alex Wood (10-3, 4.14 ERA), who has been brilliant following San Francisco losses, and A’s righty James Kaprielian (6-4, 3.33), who has pitched well at home, are the scheduled starters in the matchup of the National League West leader and American League West’s second-place club.
The San Francisco Bay Area rivals met across the bay in June, with the Giants prevailing 2-0 and then 6-5 in 10 innings before the A’s salvaged the series finale 6-2.
Wood started the middle game of the series and limited the A’s to two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He left with the score 2-2. The contest eventually went to extra innings, with Oakland scoring once in the 10th before the Giants responded with two.
Wood is coming off a strong effort in a 5-2 home win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, when he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He was on the mound in the wake of a 4-1 Rockies win, making the Giants 11-0 this season when Wood has pitched the day after a San Francisco defeat.
The Giants also are coming off a loss for this start, having dropped the finale of a 7-2 homestand to the New York Mets on Wednesday, 6-2 in 12 innings.
“He likes the role of taking care of our team,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s kind of cool that (it is) syncing up with days after when we don’t play our best baseball, he comes back the next day and performs well.”
Wood has gone just 1-2 with a 5.66 ERA in four lifetime starts against the A’s.
For the second series in a row, the Giants will be facing a team that made a long flight after a game the day before.
On Monday, they matched up with a Mets team that had played at night in New York then flew across the country on the morning of the series opener. The Giants, well rested after an afternoon home game on Sunday, took advantage, winning 7-5.
This time, the Giants had Thursday off while the A’s were in Chicago wrapping up a 10-day trip with a tough 5-4 win over the White Sox.
Unlike the Mets, Oakland benefitted from having an afternoon game before the flight and had a shorter trek.
Even though the Athletics’ homestand is bookended by matchups with hot teams, including the New York Yankees next week, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he was looking forward to getting home for a while.
“Been a long trip,” he said Thursday after his team won for just the fifth time in the 10 games. “What it’s been lately is short homestands and long road trips. It’ll be nice to settle in at home.”
Kaprielian pitched just once on the trip, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings in an 8-3 win at Texas on Saturday.
He has won his past two home starts, limiting the Los Angeles Angels and the Rangers to a total of two runs in 12 innings to improve his record in Oakland this season to 4-2 with a 1.42 ERA.
Kaprielian has never started a game against the Giants in his two-year career. He came out of the bullpen in his major league debut at San Francisco last August to throw two innings of one-run ball, giving up a home run to Brandon Crawford, in his only previous outing vs. the Giants.
–Field Level Media