Bumgarner, Bassitt square off in A’s-Giants rivalry series opener

Field Level Media

August 23, 2019 at 10:23 pm.

Chris Bassitt and the host Oakland Athletics will be seeking revenge on San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner when the geographic rivals meet again in a two-game series that begins Saturday night.

As part of the weekend rivalry scheduling offered by Major League Baseball this season, both teams had Friday off in the wake of a sweep, the A’s having taken three straight at home from the New York Yankees, while the Giants dropped three in a row on the road against the Chicago Cubs as part of a four-game slide.

Bumgarner (8-8, 3.72 ERA) pitched the opener of a two-game series against the A’s in San Francisco on Aug. 13 and got the win in a 3-2 victory. Despite allowing a home run to Stephen Piscotty, the Giants ace limited the A’s to one run and two hits in seven innings, striking out nine.

The win ran his career record to 5-2 against the A’s with a 4.32 ERA in eight starts, although he’s just 2-2 with a 6.30 ERA in five lifetime starts in Oakland.

The venue shift to Oakland figures to impact the rematch in several ways.

First off, chances are it will mean that Bumgarner won’t get to hit again against Bassitt (9-5, 3.61), against whom he belted a difference-making home run the last time the two went head-to-head in 2015.

The Giants won that game 2-1 on a night in San Francisco when Bassitt limited them to two runs and five hits in six innings (3.00 ERA). It’s the 30-year-old’s only previous meeting with the Giants.

Without the designated hitter available in last week’s meetings, A’s slugger Khris Davis was held out of the starting lineup against Bumgarner, and only appeared as pinch hitter in the ninth inning against Will Smith. Davis singled in that at-bat.

No doubt, Oakland’s sixth-leading home run hitter will be back in the starting lineup at DH against Bumgarner, hoping to recapture the crowd-pleasing magic of his two-run homer in Wednesday’s win over the Yankees.

Davis had been demoted to seventh in the lineup that night after having gone three weeks without a homer.

“He’s been so instrumental for this team, as consistent a power hitter as we’ve ever had around here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin noted in the wake of Davis’ 18th homer of the season. “It’s weighing on him. It hurts.”

The Giants, meanwhile, get an opportunity with the DH to get Austin Slater into the lineup against a right-hander, something they haven’t done often when only three outfield slots have been available.

General manager Farhan Zaidi said earlier this week that Slater could be used in the infield moving forward if that’s what it takes to get his bat in the lineup alongside Mike Yastrzemski, Kevin Pillar and Alex Dickerson.

“The at-bat quality is there; he’s gotten some really big hits for us,” Zaidi observed. “One thing that I think we’re gonna want to take a look at … he’s obviously got some experience in the infield at first base and second base. That may be a way to get him more at-bats.”

Bassitt is unbeaten in his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.