Today marks the beginning of the “Battle of the Bay” regular season contests between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. They are always intense games, more so for the fans than the players.
Both teams have passionate fan bases (although one team’s fans are much more knowledgeable than the others) and the cross-bay rivalry always gets heated. It’s been a battle since the original “Battle of the Bay” World Series in 1989. The Athletics swept the Giants in four games.
Many a Giants fan will blame the enormous earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just before the beginning of Game 3 as the reason their team lost. Many have told me that it was unfair because the A’s were able to use their top two starters twice; Dave Stewart and Mike Moore, due to the 11-day break the series took so the Bay Area could begin to recover from the death and destruction the earthquake brought with it.
The reality here is that the Giants also were able to use their two best starting pitchers Scott Garrelts and Rick Reuschel so really the argument doesn’t hold water. They start Garrelts in Game 3 and Don Robinson in Game 4, that was their choice. It only says that at that time the A’s had a better pair of top two starters or just a better team as described by Tim Keown of ESPN.com,
“Games 3 and 4 were repeats of Games 1 and 2. The Giants had to face Dave Stewart and Mike Moore all over again, which meant it wasn’t really a seven-game series, but more like a pair of two-game series, and the Giants weren’t built to compete with the A’s under those — or maybe any — parameters. The A’s were the better team regardless of schedule, but the Giants of ’89 will go to their graves believing they’d have made a better showing if they’d been able to get deeper into the Oakland rotation.”
Still, the A’s would have likely swept the Giants anyway as Keown indicates. The 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner and the last pitcher to ever win at least 25 games in a season, Bob Welch (he won 27 games in 1990), would have pitched game three and likely taken home the win.
Things have changed in the Bay Area since then, but the rivalry has not changed. One game out of four is already in the books with the Athletics winning by the score of 8-3 but there is plenty more Bay Area baseball to play!