The San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles have sat atop their respective divisions for most of the 2016 season, but when they opened a three game series in San Francisco on Friday evening, both clubs were struggling to maintain their spots in the standings.
In many ways, they look like the same ball club. And I mean that literally; on Friday the Giants wore orange while the O’s wore black, and on Saturday night they switched when the Giants dawned their blackout jerseys and the O’s wore pumpkin orange. Additionally, both teams have had to deal with lackluster offensive production since the All Star Break, and entered the series having played long, tough road trips.
Madison Bumgarner, who lowered his ERA to 2.11 and collected his first win since the All Star Break after throwing seven shutout innings on Saturday, said he isn’t worried about his team’s troubles in the second half.
“Things just haven’t gone our way for a while now, but it seems like every year something like this happens,” he said. “There aren’t many teams that just steamroll through the regular season. We have a lot of guys who know how to handle themselves and just come in prepared for the next day.”
In the rubber match of the series, set to take place this afternoon, both teams need a win to stay at or near the top of their divisions. The O’s fell a half game back of the Toronto Blue Jays with last night’s loss, however, a Toronto loss and an Oriole win today would put the O’s back on top of the AL East. The Giants, meanwhile, stayed a game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West thanks to their winning performance in game two.
Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones acknowledged Bumgarner’s excellent start on Saturday night as being part of the reason the O’s were unable to produce offensively , despite a strong performance at the plate on Friday.
“I faced him in the All-Star Game a couple times and he is as advertised,” Jones said. “He’s not one of the game’s best pitchers for the last few years for no reason, so tip your cap. He threw a hell of a game.”
Now, both clubs are looking to re-ignite their powerful lineups on a clear afternoon in Willie Mays Plaza. In that respect both teams are, again, very similar.