Between the two teams playing baseball in the Bay Area, they are two of the hottest teams in the game over the past month.
A team that was basically left for dead and trying to recoup as much back as they could as sellers at the deadline a month ago, the San Francisco Giants are on an absolutely tear.
The Giants are winners of 16 of their last 20 games, which includes a pair of road series sweeps over division rivals San Diego and Colorado. Not only have the Giants been winning games, they are beating direct competition as well. Along with the two sweeps, they also have series wins over Milwaukee at Miller Park and St. Louis at home. In fact, over the stretch, the Giants have three of the five teams ahead of them in the wild card race.
However, the road does not get any easier for San Francisco, as they play the Central-leading Cubs, the Phillies twice, and the wild card-leading Nationals, in four of the next six series.
While pitching has been important over the past 20-game stretch, the fascinating thing is that offense have come to the forefront for San Francisco as well. Of the 16 wins, seven of those have come by four runs or more. This includes routs of 19-2 and 13-2.
Not only that, the offense is coming from some unlikely places. Rookie Mike Yastrzemski, who had a walk-off home run on Sunday has been a catalyst. Over the month of July alone Yastrzemski is hitting .294 with a .942 OPS. This includes four home runs in 15 games. However, he is not alone. Donovan Solano, who had not seen a big league at bat in nearly three years, has a .367/.385/.592 slash for July. This includes seven extra-base hits in 14 games. Alex Dickerson was acquired by the Giants after being DFA’d by the Padres on June 10. Since then, he has hit .397 with a 1.258 OPS, including five home runs, three triples, and five doubles in just 73 at bats.
Additionally, the Giants have seen traditional output from Buster Posey, hitting .294 with a .808 OPS in July, and Brandon Belt who has hit .300 for the month. Brandon Crawford has gotten hot after a horrendous start to the season with a .300 month and a .986 OPS over the span. This has helped make up for Pablo Sandoval’s slump and Evan Longoria’s injury. However, Longoria hit six home runs in 30 at bats prior to the injury.
With this run, the Giants are getting a lot of media attention. But much less known is what the Oakland A’s have been doing all season long. Oakland has the gone 16-5 over its last 21 games and is 6.5 games behind Houston in the American League West. Additionally, they are currently sitting in the second wild card position. Over that span, the A’s have two series sweeps and have gone 4-3 against Minnesota, who has the fourth best record in baseball.
Much like the Giants, the A’s are going be tested over the next month as well. Monday night, they open a two-game series against Houston and close the month playing Milwaukee. August features a series in Chicago against the Cubs, another Houston series, and two series against the Yankees, who have the second-best record in baseball.
Oakland has been doing it with their pair of Matts – Olson and Chapman – who are two of the more underrated players in the game. Ramon Laureano showcased his power in the middle of the order as well. Overall, Oakland has been scoring runs with power. They have the sixth most home runs through Sunday and the fourth fewest strikeouts. Simply put, the A’s put the ball in play. The squad’s .251 batting average is just under the .253 league average. However, the team’s .775 OPS is well over the .756 league average.
On the pitching side, Oakland is allowing the third fewest home runs in a season where balls are flying out of the park. This translates into the sixth best ERA in the American League. Basically, the A’s are winning by bashing the ball at the plate and limiting the power on the mound.
Regardless, on each side of the bay, quality baseball is being played over the past month. While it is being completed in different methods, each team is looking to be buyers at the deadline. One of the two also appears to be more sustainable over the long run, based on the pieces that they are doing it with…and that is the team receiving the least attention.