Manager Bob Melvin isn't shy about his enthusiasm leading up to the Bay Bridge Series between his MLB-best Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, especially with both teams proving to be contenders through the first half of the season.
While he stopped short of discussing a potential rematch of the 1989 World Series, Melvin is excited about the four-game, two-city series that begins Monday night in Oakland.
"We have a bit of a rivalry going here, so it always seems like it's a different atmosphere," Melvin told MLB's official website. "I'm on record saying that I've been caught up in it the last several years. Something that I look forward to."
The A's (55-33) made a statement over the weekend by trading a package of top prospects to the Chicago Cubs for starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and Samardzija was as good as advertised in Sunday's 4-2 victory over Toronto that completed a four-game sweep.
Hammel likely will start against the Giants on Wednesday when this series shifts to San Francisco. Melvin feels like his club should be prepared for the challenge.
"It seems like we played them 10 times in spring, and then we have the Bay Bridge Series, and how well they've done in recent years and this year again - so it's spirited to begin with," Melvin said. "I think with both teams doing well to this point, it kind of adds to it."
San Francisco (49-39) held a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL West on June 8, but it now sits a half-game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in second place after going 7-18 since that date.
The Giants won the final two of their three-game set with San Diego, though, after Tim Lincecum led them to a 5-3 victory Sunday. Brandon Belt had two RBIs and Hunter Pence had three hits.
Pence, who extended his hitting streak to 11, was named an All-Star after the game.
"It's such a tremendous reward," said Pence, also an All-Star in 2009 and 2011. "I love the game so much. ... It's special. I wish I had better words to describe it."
The Giants will look to stay on a roll behind starter Ryan Vogelsong, who is seeking a third straight solid outing.
Vogelsong (5-5, 3.86 ERA) gave up one run in six innings against Cincinnati on June 26 and two runs in seven innings against St. Louis on Wednesday, but he didn't receive any run support in either start and suffered the loss in each.
''Those guys, they'll start swinging it,'' the right-hander said. ''You go through this stuff. You either get through it and get stronger or you don't get through it and you finish in last."
San Francisco has scored five times in each of its last two games after being shut out in two of its previous three. It looks to continue that trend against Oakland starter Jesse Chavez, who is going through a bit of a rough stretch.
Chavez (6-5, 3.23) gave up four runs in five innings of the Athletics' 9-5 win at Miami on June 27 before allowing five runs in five innings of Wednesday's 9-3 loss at Detroit.
''We got the lead in the first (Wednesday), and I gave it back,'' Chavez said. ''That's the biggest thing. As a starter, when you get the lead, you want to hang on to it.''
Oakland will be represented well at the All-Star Game, placing an MLB-most six players on the roster - its most since having seven in 1975.
"This is great that there are so many representatives," said Josh Donaldson, who will be joined by Scott Kazmir, Derek Norris, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Sean Doolittle. "I feel like it's very deserving."
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