Bay Bridge Series: Top moments in history of SF Giants-Oakland A’s regular season rivalry

Unlike last season, there is no chance the Giants and A’s will see each other in the playoffs.

And after this weekend’s Bay Bridge Series games at the Coliseum, there is no telling how many more times the teams will play each other for Bay Area bragging rights. The A’s lease at the Coliseum runs out after next season, and the team hasn’t backed down on its threat to move to Las Vegas if a new stadium deal isn’t reached for Howard Terminal.

Since interleague play arrived in 1997, the Bay Bridge Series has been one of MLB’s bigger success stories. It’s been competitive – the A’s hold a 71-65 advantage – and it’s been a hit with the fans. Five of the nine largest regular-season crowds in Coliseum history have been for Bay Bridge Series games, including the top two.

The Series is all even this season after the teams split their first two games at Oracle Park in April. Carlos Rodón won his third straight start in a Giants uniform to kick things off, an 8-2 Giants win. A day later, Chad Pinder made team history when he became the first A’s player to hit a leadoff home run that turned out to be the only run of the game. Paul Blackburn, a Heritage High grad who grew up a Giants fan, and five relievers made that hold up in the 21st shutout in the series.

As the 2022 series wraps up this weekend at the Coliseum, here’s a look at some of the memorable and notable moments in the history of the Bay Bridge Series. Not included in our list is the biggest Bay Bridge Series moment, the 1989 earthquake-interrupted World Series swept by the A’s. That’s a story for another time.

July 2, 1997The first interleague Bay Bridge Series game was played on a Wednesday afternoon at then-3Com Park. Barry Bonds didn’t homer, but Mark McGwire did in the A’s 8-1 win. McGwire only hit four more with the A’s before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and beginning his pursuit of Roger Maris. Bonds homered the following day, the first of 18 in 52 games against the A’s. He also walked in 63 of his 222 plate appearances.

Giants Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire talk at first base. (Contra Costa Times/Bob Larson) 1997
Giants Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire talk at first base. (Contra Costa Times/Bob Larson) 1997

June 4, 2000Jeff Kent hit two home runs with 5 RBIs in an 18-2 Giants win. But amid all the offense — the teams combined for 26 hits and five home runs — was Shawn Estes pitching the first complete game in the series. It’s only been done 12 times in 136 games, the last coming by Tim Lincecum in 2011. That was the end of a six-game stretch against the A’s that saw Lincecum go 5-0 with two shutouts and three complete games. The complete game that didn’t result in a shutout might have been Lincecum’s most dominating against the A’s, a 12-strikeout performance in 2009 spoiled only by Jason Giambi’s penultimate homer in Green and Gold.

June 29, 2003Bay Area native Eric Byrnes hit for the cycle against the team he grew up rooting for, accomplishing the rare feat in the A’s 5-2 win with a no-way-he’s-stopping standup triple in the ninth inning. Byrnes had a big Series moment a year later, blasting a pair of three-run home runs in an A’s 9-6 comeback win. The go-ahead rally was sparked when A’s starter Mark Mulder was hit by a pitch — the only time that happened in his 131 career plate appearances.

June 26, 2004In one of the wilder walk-off games in Series history (there have been 11), the Giants tied the score with a four-run ninth off new A’s closer Octavio Dotel (the big blow was A.J. Pierzynski’s three-run homer, one of his few shining moments with the club). But in the bottom of the 10th Marco Scutaro’s two-out single gave the A’s an 8-7 win. Scutaro also broke Giants fans’ hearts with a tie-breaking home run off Matt Cain in 2007 — five years before he became an all-time franchise favorite for his 2012 playoff heroics.

Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants gets doused in Mumm's Champagne in the clubhouse after the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. Scutaro knocked in the winning run in the tenth inning. (Karl Mondon/Staff)
Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants gets doused in Mumm’s Champagne in the clubhouse after the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. Scutaro knocked in the winning run in the tenth inning. (Karl Mondon/Staff)

May 20, 2006A day after striking out to end the game, Bonds tied Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list with No. 714 in the second inning. But it was his ninth-inning intentional walk that set up Ray Durham’s tie-breaking RBI single in the Giants’ 4-2 comeback win. Durham was the hero against his former team again about a month later when he blasted a three-run walk-off home run off closer Huston Street in an 8-7 Giants win.

May 18, 2007After signing a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Giants in the offseason, Barry Zito returned to the Coliseum. He was met with boos and, in a sign of things to come, barely made it through four innings in the A’s 15-3 win. The A’s beat Zito again about a month later and the lefty dropped his first four meetings against his old team. But he nearly evened things out in the end, beating the A’s in his final three starts against them, finally breaking through in 2010.

May 22, 2010In one of the better pitchers duels in the Series, Matt Cain and Gio Gonzalez both went eight innings in Oakland without allowing an earned run. The A’s won 1-0 on an unearned run in the third inning. Cain’s luck never got much better against the A’s. He had a dominating 2.42 ERA in 12 career starts against the A’s, pitching three complete games (including a one-hit victory in 2006) but had a 4-5 record to show for it. The Coliseum was particularly unkind, where he went 1-2 despite a 1.83 ERA.

September 26, 2015It was supposed to be turn-back-the-clock day at the Coliseum, with two of the A’s old “Big Three” — Zito and Tim Hudson — squaring off. But Hudson, for the Giants, didn’t get out of the second inning, and Zito, after taking the previous season off and spending most of 2015 in the minors, was gone in the third. The star was rookie Jarrett Parker, who became the first Giant to hit at least three homers with seven RBIs in a game since Willie Mays. For good measure, Parker hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the eighth for his third home run in the Giants’ 14-10 win.

Hudson and Zito made one more start each before retiring after the season. Parker hit just 12 more homers in the other 139 games of his big league career. In the end, five of his 15 career home runs came against the A’s.

July 21, 2018It’s no secret the A’s often have had trouble filling the stadium, but this night they opened Mount Davis for the first time in 13 years and the game drew 56,310 fans – an A’s record and the highest attendance for any MLB game that season. The teams gave the fans their money’s worth in a wild game that saw Madison Bumgarner chased after four innings and was not settled until Jonathan Lucroy’s two-out, walk-off single in the 11th. Matt Chapman gave the A’s a 6-5 walk-off win a day later with a two-out RBI single in the 10th.

Aug. 14, 2020With cardboard cutouts in the stands, the A’s won 8-7 in 10 innings in San Francisco. Bay Area native Stephen Piscotty’s grand slam tied it in a five-run ninth for the A’s, then another Bay Area native, Mark Canha won it with a sacrifice fly to score Chapman, who started the inning at second base under MLB’s extra-innings rule change.

June 25, 2021The first COVID-19 era game at full capacity at Oracle drew 36,928 loud fans to watch Johnny Cueto outduel Sean Manaea in a 2-0 Giants win. Legend has it that the line that day at the garlic fries stand was at one point nearly a quarter-mile.

August 21-22, 2021The Giants made history by becoming the first team to hit lead-changing pinch-hit homers in the eighth inning or later in back-to-back games. First it was LaMonte Wade Jr, who came off the bench to hit a go-ahead two-run homer with one out in the ninth off A’s closer Lou Trivino. A day later, Donovan Solano turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Giants lead with a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning.

Contributed by local news sources

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