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Bay Area Buzzsaws: Athletics, Giants off to fine starts

Bay Area baseball is off to some start this season.

The Oakland Athletics reeled off 13 straight wins and lead the AL West, even after their streak was snapped by Baltimore on Sunday. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have quietly played pretty well themselves. Although the Dodgers and Padres have received more attention in the NL West, the Giants are second in that division at 14-8 – the same record as the A’s.

Oakland actually began the season in ugly fashion, dropping its first six games. Included in that skid were losses of 8-1, 9-1 and 9-2 to Houston and 10-3 to the Dodgers. Those blowouts put the A’s in a substantial hole from a run differential perspective – even now, they’re still at minus-2 for the season.

But Oakland scored at least six runs nine times during its winning streak. Matt Olson has led the way offensively with six home runs and a 1.030 OPS. Ramon Laureano shares the major league lead with eight stolen bases.

For San Francisco, pitching has been the story. The Giants have a team ERA of 2.94, which puts them right between the Padres (2.75) and Dodgers (2.97) at the top of the majors. San Francisco catcher Curt Casali caught shutouts in five straight starts – with five different starting pitchers.

Casali’s streak ended Sunday, but not until the eighth inning of his team’s 4-3 win over Miami.

SUPER SEVEN

It was a former San Francisco star, Madison Bumgarner, who started quite a debate Sunday when he held Atlanta without a hit in the second game of a doubleheader.

Bumgarner, who is with Arizona now, only had to pitch seven innings because of baseball’s recent switch to shorter games in doubleheaders. That means his 7-0 victory won’t go into the official list of no-hitters, which requires a game of nine or more innings.

The Braves only managed one hit in the entire doubleheader. Zac Gallen threw a one-hitter in the opener.

The Diamondbacks cast their vote on the significance of Bumgarner’s achievement by having a spirited celebration around the mound when it was over.

TRIVIA TIME

Bumgarner made his big league debut in September 2009 and remained with the Giants through the 2019 season. Three San Francisco pitchers threw no-hitters during that span. Who were they?

LINE OF THE WEEK

With all due respect to Bumgarner’s gem, Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets pitched two additional innings Friday night, when he struck out 15 in a two-hit shutout against Washington.

DeGrom lowered his career ERA to 2.55, taking over the franchise’s career lead from Tom Seaver.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

The Dodgers led San Diego 7-1 in the bottom of the sixth Sunday night. According to Baseball Savant, their win probability peaked at 98.8%, but the Padres chipped away, scoring twice in the seventh, eighth and ninth and eventually winning 8-7 in 11 innings.

That game ended a thrilling stretch in which these two NL West rivals played seven times in 10 days – beginning with an 11-6 Los Angeles win in 12 innings and concluding with San Diego’s extra-inning triumph. The Padres won four of the games and outscored the Dodgers 32-30 in total.

HIGHLIGHT

Arizona outfielder Kole Calhoun tried to reach into the crowd to catch a foul fly Friday night at Atlanta. No dice. A young fan wearing glasses reached up and caught it instead – and it was hard to tell who was most surprised after the ball ended up in the kid’s glove. Calhoun seemed amused and gave the fan a fist bump.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Matt Cain threw a perfect game in 2012, Tim Lincecum tossed no-hitters in 2013 and 2014, and Chris Heston pitched one in 2015.

Jonathan Sanchez pitched a no-hitter for the Giants in 2009, but that was before Bumgarner was called up.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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