Gabe Kapler will manage against the Oakland Athletics for the first time in his career when he is introduced to the Bay Bridge rivalry, as his San Francisco Giants host their neighbors to the east in a three-game interleague series on Friday night.
The clubs also will duel in September in Oakland.
Right-handers Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA) of the A’s and Johnny Cueto (1-0, 5.40) of the Giants are the scheduled starters in Friday’s series opener.
The rivals battled to a 25-25 standoff in the decade of the 2010’s, with the Giants drawing even last season by virtue of three wins in four meetings. The home team dominated the matchup in the decade, winning 32 of the 50 games.
Cueto will be pitching for the first time since losing a no-hit bid in the sixth inning at Los Angeles last Saturday when left fielder Hunter Pence lost a flyball in the lights.
The veteran nonetheless was able to get his first win, allowing just two hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Pence no doubt hopes to get a chance to redeem himself in Cueto’s next start. He’s spent the better part of the past five days apologizing for his gaffe in L.A.
“Johnny had the magic going, the rhythm going, had everything working. It was a special night that doesn’t always come around, and you could just feel it,” Pence told reporters. “To spoil that feels awful.”
Cueto has faced the A’s just twice in his career, going 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA. That win came in 2010.
Montas, meanwhile, has never faced the Giants. He’s pitched once on the road so far this season, going seven innings in an 11-1 win at Seattle last Monday in which he allowed just one run and four hits.
The matchup with the Giants will be the first for A’s reliever Burch Smith since he was acquired in a rare transaction between the rivals. San Francisco received only cash in the deal made during the initial spring training in February.
A journeyman who had made previous stops in San Diego, Kansas City and Milwaukee before reaching San Francisco last season, Smith has been brilliant out of the Oakland bullpen this year. He’s gone 2-0 without allowing a run in 10 1/3 innings.
He has retired 19 of 20 batters he’s faced this month.
A’s manager Bob Melvin credits pitching coach Scott Emerson for recommending Smith to Oakland.
“He’s been an absolute godsend for us,” Melvin told reporters of Smith after a recent win. “It looks like his fastball has a little bit of a rise to it that would suggest he has a good spin rate on the fastball. I know he’s got a good spin rate on his curve, which allows him to kind of pitch up and down where most pitchers go side to side. He can do both, and you see a lot of late swings and swings underneath it.”
The Giants have a similar success story in their bullpen in new closer Trevor Gott, who has allowed just one run in six innings over six appearances, recording four saves.
–Field Level Media