Bay Area brouhaha
The A's and Giants square off in a Bay Area battle with both at or near the top of their respective divisions.
Big Comeback, Big Bomb: The Giants spotted Oakland three runs in the top of the first inning Friday night, but then came back to win 6-3 as Barry Bonds clubbed his 22nd homer of this season and the 680th homer of his career. He also moved within four walks of Rickey Henderson's career record of 2,190.
Big Composure: Six batters into Friday's game, Giants starter Kirk Rueter was three runs down and still was not out of the first inning. But Rueter held Oakland scoreless over the next five innings, aided by a couple of Athletics' base-running outs in the fifth. Mark Kotsay was thrown out at home for the first out of the inning while trying to score from first on a double -- violating a time-honored baseball dictum -- and Jermaine Dye was picked off for the final out of the inning.
Big Turning Point: That figures to be in Saturday's matchup, when Oakland right-hander Rich Harden -- who is coming back from a dislocation of his non-throwing shoulder -- works against the Giants' Dustin Hermanson.
Big X-Factor: Athletics rookie Bobby Crosby keeps coming on, and has developed into an important part of the Oakland attack. His batting average in April was .200, he hit .261 in May, and then .337 in June, a steep ascent; he hit three, four and then five homers in the first three months.
Big Matchup: Any time Barry Bonds plays, he is the most important matchup. He's only had one at-bat against Arthur Rhodes, the Oakland set-up man, and has had some success against the Athletics' new closer, Octavio Dotel -- two hits in six at-bats, including a home run.
Big Stat: Bonds went 1-for-3 Friday with the home run and walk -- and his on-base percentage at home actually dropped. Going into the series, Bonds had generated a staggering .649 on-base percentage in home games, along with a .405 batting average, and 12 homers in 79 at-bats. He might be lucky to get five pitches to hit the whole weekend.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," will be released later this summer, and can be pre-ordered through HarperCollins.com.
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