After nearly a decade of alternating success for the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, both teams won their respective Western divisions in 2012, the first time that's happened since 2003. But one streak that looks likely to live on is both teams winning a playoff series in the same year. The last time that happeend was way back in 1989, when the teams both won pennants and faced off in the 1989 World Series, won by the A's.
Just two games into each team's playoff series, odds of a series win look bleak. Both teams trail 2-0, and the losses have been tough to swallow. The Giants got outpitched (surprisingly) and outhit (unsurprisingly) by the Reds at AT&T Park, while the A's opened the season in Detroit and lost their two games mainly due to uncharacteristic sloppy defense and pitching from their bullpen.
In order to win their seris with the Reds, the Giants have a much steeper climb than the A's. Not only do they need to head to Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark and sweep all three games, but they need to control a Reds team that has a .761 OPS at home compared to just .693 on the road…and Cincinnati scored 14 runs in the first two games of the series in San Francisco. There's also the minor note that Ryan Vogelsong will be starting Tuesday's game two for the Giants. Vogelsong has gotten beaten up in the last two months of the season, posting a 6.32 ERA in August and a 6.46 ERA in September while getting shelled for an OPS above .800 in each month. His strikeout and walk rates remain fine, but the BABIP luck he had for all of 2011 and the first half of 2012 has came back down to Earth. And if the Giants do win on Tuesday, they'll either roll the mediocre Barry Zito (who had a good September) out on Wednesday, or go with ace Matt Cain on three days rest.
The A's on the other hand, will be heading back to the Coliseum for the remainder of their AL Division Series with the Tigers. Oakland won 50 games at home this season, including going 20-9 over the last two months of the year. The A's are also in better shape than the Giants because of the terms of their losses to the Tigers, losing two low scoring games due to simple mistakes as opposed to a pair of outright beatdowns. Each team in the series has scored the same amount of earned runs (five), indicating that the A's are really just shooting themselves in the foot. The A's can still win the series, knowing that they don't need to face until Justin Verlander again until game five. I'm sure that facing Anibal Sanchez in his first taste of the playoffs and a potentially gimpy Max Scherzer are more promising then needing to face the overpowering Verlander or the crafty Doug Fister.
Neither of the two Bay Area teams is in a good place by any means. Both of their seasons could end tomorrow night. If I had to bet on one team making it out of the Division Series and into the League Championship Series, it would be Oakland, who had been in both games only to come up just short. The Giants look like a dead team walking at this point, and I'd be stunned if they took their series to a game four, let alone a game five.