OAKLAND, California: For the second time in a week, the A’s struggled to close out what could have been a sweep of a four-game series, the San Francisco Giants beating up on Dillon Overton early and beating Oakland 12-6.
The A’s had hoped their past success against Madison Bumgarner would carry them through, but Bumgarner was better than his career 5.06 ERA against Oakland, and on top of that, it was his double that started the biggest rally of the night for San Francisco.
The lefty, essentially serving as his own DH, triggered a six-run third inning with his double, then went on to pitch 6.2 innings, allowing four runs.
The bad news for Oakland is that the A’s must decide on what to do now that lefty reliever Sean Doolittle is on the disabled list through at least the All-Star break, July 11-14.
The A’s and Doolittle had hoped he’d be ready to pitch this weekend after he’d come down what they believed was minor shoulder discomfort. Instead he spent his early evening getting an MRI on the shoulder when it showed no evidence of loosening up.
“We really thought yesterday we had the potential for him to turn the corner, but it didn’t work out that way,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He went out and played catch and just couldn’t get after it. We’re hoping that it’s something that isn’t too bad, but with a guy like him, we really want to be careful.”
Doolittle said Wednesday the pain wasn’t in the same area where he had an injury that cost him the better part of five months on the DL last year.
The A’s were able to strike first in this one with shortstop Marcus Semien driving a 1-0 pitch from Bumgarner out to left-center for his 16th homer. For the A’s shortstop it was his career-best 16th homer. Three months into the season he has already surpassed his previous career best of 15, set last season, and has put himself in contention for an All-Star berth.
The Giants’ had struggled mightily against the A’s starters in the first three games of the Bay Bridge Series, getting just five runs off them total. San Francisco went to an unexpected source, Bumgarner, to turn things around.
One of the best hitting pitchers in the game, Bumgarner erased thoughts of four decades without a National League team having a pitcher hit for himself in an AL park by opening the third with a bullet to center. Billy Burns tried to race back and catch the ball, but Bumgarner had a double and the Giants a brewing rally.
A’s rookie Overton walked Denard Span, then gave up a tough-luck bloop single to Angel Pagan as the Giants loaded the bases. Brandon Belt put San Francisco up 2-1 with a ground-rule double and two pitches later it was 5-1 when Buster Posey homered to center.
When Brandon Crawford followed that with a solo shot, it became clear this wasn’t going to be a game like the first three. With a 6-1 lead and Bumgarner on the mound, it seemed likely to be an easy sail home.
The Giants ultimately knocked Overton out of the game in the fourth on back-to-back doubles to open the inning. And while the A’s bullpen would put a freeze on the Giants’ explosive tendencies, the damage was done.
Oakland would get a run in the fourth on a Billy Butler double and Jake Smolinski single, and then knocked Bumgarner out of the game on Yonder Alonso’s second homer in as many days, a two-run shot into the right field corner.
— In addition to putting Doolittle on the disabled list, the A’s optioned reliever/starter Zach Neal to Nashville and called up two more relievers, lefty Daniel Coulombe and right-hander Andrew Triggs. Both wound up pitching Thursday.
— Khris Davis said he was still feeling some pain behind his left shoulder and, after being scratched from the lineup Wednesday, wasn’t in the lineup Thursday. He hit in the batting cages and did some limited work during batting practice. He said he hopes to be able to start again Friday.