An exciting Interleague series between two Bay Area rivals and playoff contenders this week has an added bit of allure with one team in position to flip the script on the all-time series.
The A's head into their cross-bay series with the Giants on Monday with a narrow two-game lead in the all-time series (47-45). But with a four-game set that lasts until Thursday, the Giants have the chance to turn the tables.
San Francisco has won four of six and the A's have won eight of their last nine. The first pitch for the Memorial Day matinee on Monday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
"I've often said that people in the Bay Area, it's an exciting time in the baseball season for them, because everyone's watching," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You can say all you want that it's just another team, another four games, and it is another team and another four games, but in the Bay Area it takes on more importance than that. Everyone's watching. Stands are packed, whether it's our place or their place. It's a raucous crowd, our side and their side. It's kind of cool."
Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner squares off Monday against A's right-hander Dan Straily. The first two games of the series will take place in Oakland, before shifting across the Bay to AT&T Park for the final two games on Wednesday and Thursday.
For the first time this year, the Interleague series that feature prime rivals such as the Giants and A's, will be played in the two-game series back-to-back format rather than two separate three-game sets.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy says he doesn't have a preference, but Melvin enjoys the series so much that he'd prefer the six-game format.
"But with Interleague the way it is, it's just the way it is now," he said. "Heck, we play the Reds four games."
Monday kicks off a stretch of 18 games for the defending World Series champion Giants that includes 14 on the road. Granted, o.Co Coliseum isn't far, but it still provides a challenge. Bochy said for the Giants to have success during that stretch, consistency with pitching and on defense is key.
"We gotta catch the ball," Bochy said. "We gotta tighten up this defense. We're still not where we need to be. We're still making a few too many mistakes. It just puts more pressure on the pitcher, you're adding pitches, you're putting more guys on base. You give a team more outs, you're giving them some kind of advantage."
Athletics: Straily coming off career-best start
Straily turned in the best performance of his season, and perhaps his career, on Tuesday, when he held the Rangers scoreless on two hits and no walks with five strikeouts in seven innings.
In his four previous starts since taking over for the injured Brett Anderson -- who will be sidelined for at least another month with a stress fracture in his right foot -- Straily walked 12 batters and surrendered 19 runs in just 19 1/3 innings. On Tuesday, he didn't issue any free passes, only reaching a three-ball count twice. He didn't allow a runner past first base and faced just one over the minimum, fanning five along the way.
"He was getting ahead early, throwing a lot of strikes," said catcher John Jaso after the game. "I think this is kind of a good learning time, because he can have confidence in pounding the strike zone and getting really good hitters out by throwing quality strikes and trusting your stuff."
Said Straily: "I won't say I've ever lacked confidence, but this was the most confident I ever felt out there."
Giants: Bumgarner has history versus Oakland
• Bumgarner, 4-2 this year with a 2.89 ERA, has made six Interleague starts in his career, spanning 35 2/3 innings. He's 2-2 with a 4.79 ERA, but one of those wins came against the A's.
• The Giants have 11 one-run victories this year and seven losses in games decided by a single run. They entered Sunday tied for the Major League lead (with the D-backs, Reds and Indians) for the most one-run victories.
The A's and Giants both won 94 games last year, and Melvin admitted he's thought about the what-if factor, had his club beaten Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALDS and gone on to face the Giants in the World Series.
"I do," he said. "It would've been really exciting. It's tough to do that, because the way it plays out is the way it plays out, but it would've been cool. The way it played out last year, the way both teams played down the stretch, the excitement of baseball in the Bay Area, it would've been really neat."
Joey Nowak is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.