Bob Melvin never likes to get drawn into deep conversation about games beyond the one on the schedule that day, but he couldn’t resist Sunday on the eve of this year’s interleague clash with the crossbay San Francisco Giants.
Melvin loves the Bay Bridge Series, to the degree that he’s a bit sad that it’s only four games this year instead of six, and that all four of those games will be played in a row, two in Oakland Monday and Tuesday, and two in San Francisco Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’ve often said for people in the Bay Area, it’s an exciting time of the baseball season for them because everybody’s watching it,” Melvin said. “You can say all you want that it’s just four games against another team, but in the Bay Area, it takes on more importance than that. The stands are packed, whether it’s our place or their place, it’s a raucous crowd for both sides, and there are a lot of people who are fighting and arguing in bars and restaurants for their team. It’s kind of cool.”
Melvin admitted he still thinks about how close things came to a Bay Area World Series last year. Had it not been for Detroit’s Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALDS, it might have happened.
“I do,” he said. “It would have been really exciting. It’s tough to do that and the way it plays out is the way it plays out, but it would have been cool, especially last year with the way both teams played down the stretch. It would have been really neat.”
The pitching matchups for the Giants:
Monday in Oakland: Dan Straily (2-2, 5.73) vs. Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 2.89), 1:05 p.m.
Tuesday in Oakland: Jarrod Parker (2-6, 5.76) vs. TBA (our Alex Pavlovic says it’ll be between Shane Loux, Chris Heston or Mike Kickham, replacing injured Ryan Vogelsong), 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday in San Francisco: Tommy Milone (4-5, 3.80) vs. Tim Lincecum (3-4, 4.75), 7:15 p.m.
Thursday in San Francisco: A.J. Griffin (5-3, 3.84) vs. Barry Zito (3-3, 4.13)
That’s a great matchup there on Thursday. Couple of laid-back guitar-playing free spirits.
So who’s the best A’s player through 50 games? Melvin said flatly that it’s third baseman Josh Donaldson on both offense and defense. Tough to argue, with him hitting .322 (with a .398 on-base) to lead the team. He also leads the team with 30 RBIs, 23 walks, 17 doubles, 58 hits and 49 games played and is tied for second in home runs with seven.
Defensively, the converted catcher has been an athletic, dynamic presence at third base and has made just four errors in 49 games.
Why has Donaldson taken it up a notch?
“It’s just confidence,” Melvin said. “He continues to swing the bat well and his confidence continues to grow. You look at his numbers he’s put up in the minor leagues and the ability’s always been there. The only thing that hasn’t been is the opportunity at the big league level. With the Sizemore injury last year, it really opened up an opportunity for him.
“He’s taken the job, seized it, and I think he’s played more games than anybody on our team. To this point in time, he’s probably been our most consistent player, offensively and defensively.”
The A’s haven’t had a position player All-Star since Ramon Hernandez in 2003 but Donaldson could work his way into the conversation if he keeps it up. There’s some tough competition in the A.L., what with Miguel Cabrera the sure starter at third base and guys like Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre and Manny Machado also having outstanding years.
“We’re only in May, but I know the ballots are out there, and he’s certainly making a case for himself,” Melvin said.
Melvin said he would love to see multiple players from the A’s make the All-Star team. The only thing he doesn’t want to see is Yoenis Cespedes in the Home Run Derby. It would probably mean he’d have to go as Cespedes’ favorite gopher-ball server.
Our Dan Brown got a chance to talk to Wally Haas the other night about his late father Walter A. Haas Jr. being inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Here’s what Wally had to say:
“It’s a privilege to be on the same stage with these three great legends of the Bay Area (Brent Jones, Tim Brown and Dave Righetti). We’re just honored that my dad is being recognized as well. It’s just an honor. The only sad thing is that he’s not here to accept. “
(How do you want your dad to be remembered?)
“As someone who really understood how to use the power of sports to strengthen and unite a community. He really saw the A’s as a community asset that belonged to everyone.
“And even though he was a very humble and modest man, he was as competitive as anyone. His No. 1 goal when he owned the A’s was to win. He was willing to make the deep investments to create a winning franchise and to spend so that we could be consistently competitive.
“Look, he was a great athlete himself. Not in baseball, but he won a letter at Cal in tennis. And he helped build up the largest apparel company in the world. But it was nice because, to me, he was an unassuming, humble person. That would disarm people. We heard many of stories of him asking if he could borrow a baseball. Or going to ask if he could get a Band-Aid. Our trainer would say, “Walter, you paid for all of this.” But he wasn’t trying to cute. In a way, it was very refreshing.”
(He was not a Jerry Jones / Mark Cuban type?)
“Not really. It’s not that he didn’t care. He just had a different way.”
Jed Lowrie back in the lineup today in the series finale against Houston – at second, with Adam Rosales at short. Melvin said when Rosales is in the lineup, he just prefers starting him at short.
Josh Reddick had his final tuneup in the cage Sunday. He’s good to go on his rehab assignment beginning Monday at Class Stockton, then switching over to Triple-A Sacramento Tuesday. Reddick said he wants to be back by next Friday against Chicago, but Melvin said it could happen sooner or later depending on how Reddick is swinging. He wants to make sure he feels good about his swing before he returns with Oakland.
First start as a 40-year-old for Bartolo Colon today. As I said on Twitter the other day, Bartolo doesn’t look a day over 40.