Bay Area Baseball Goes from World Series Hope to Playoff Despair for Giants, A's

Dan LevyNational Lead WriterOctober 8, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Catcher Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants looks down from the dugout in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during Game Two of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on October 7, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

What a difference a week makes. The San Francisco Bay Area has gone from veritable baseball euphoria to abject calamity in a matter of less than seven days.

Things looked so promising in Oakland and San Francisco just one short week ago.

One week ago, the Oakland Athletics were starting a three-game series against the Texas Rangers needing a sweep for the American League West crown. The A's pulled off the improbable feat to avoid the one-game Wild Card Game they had been destined to play in for the better part of a month.

Oakland outscored the Rangers 19-10 in the three-game set that included a 12-5 shellacking in the AL West's deciding game.

Heading into the playoffs, things couldn't have been better in Oakland. 

Meanwhile, one week ago, the San Francisco Giants were in cruise control, finishing up the regular season against the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

Just two months earlier, many thought the series might decide the division. But the Giants decided things early—winning 38 of 58 games from Aug. 1 until the end of the regular season to leave the Dodgers in the dust, eight games back in the West.

While the A's were playing meaningful baseball night in and night out, the Giants hadn't played a meaningful game in weeks leading into the playoffs.

But it doesn't look like rest or momentum is helping either team in the Bay Area right about now.

What a difference a week makes, especially with this wacky LDS format. 

Oakland's momentum came to a screeching halt in the first two games of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. Because of the ridiculous scheduling logistics in the MLB playoffs this year, Oakland had the grave misfortune of playing the Tigers for two games in Detroit before playing the final three at home in what has now become back-to-back-to-back must-win games.

The rules this year are awful and only serve to reward the lower-seeded teams by giving them the first two games at home. Still, despite the ridiculous rules, Oakland is the only higher-seeded team to not win a game on the road and the only higher seed in any of the four series heading home down 0-2. 

The Giants had the great fortune of not only starting the playoffs at home, but facing a Cincinnati Reds team that lost ace Johnny Cueto after four pitches in Game 1. The Giants were stymied in the first game by a Cincinnati bullpen that threw 8.2 innings of two-run baseball, led by Mat Latos, who pitched four innings of emergency relief after expecting to be the Game 3 starter.

At least both of Oakland's games have been close.

After shutting down the A's behind Justin Verlander in the series opener, winning 3-1, the Tigers needed multiple comebacks and walk-off heroics to take Game 2 of their ALDS matchup. Oakland should return home disappointed but not despondent, knowing winning three games at home in a must-win situation is certainly possible.

Remember, one week ago the A's did just that.  

The Giants should feel a whole lot worse heading into their Game 3 than Oakland. San Francisco was manhandled in Game 2, held to one hit by Bronson Arroyo over seven innings while giving up nine runs to the heavy-hitting Reds lineup. At home.

San Francisco needed seven pitchers in Game 2, scattering 15 baserunners in the game.

The Giants are now faced with winning three games in a row at Great American Ball Park to advance to the NLCS. All is not completely lost, as the Giants have actually won three consecutive games on the road four times this year. Still, the Reds did not lose three straight games at home at any point in the 2012 regular season.

Having said that, Cincinnati did lose back-to-back home games five times this year, which is all San Francisco can hope for at this point in the series. If the Giants can even the series at two games apiece, anything can happen in an elimination playoff game when both teams have their seasons on the line. 

Neither situation is ideal for the Bay Area's baseball clubs. (Boy is that an understatement.) Things looked so promising one week ago.

One week ago, the Giants were back in a familiar spot in the playoffs with the hopes of bringing another World Series title to town. The A's were riding a euphoric wave of success the entire second half of the season, first becoming relevant, then a contender, then eventually the AL West division champion.

That feeling is all but gone.

It seems like the playoffs just started, and both teams in the Bay Area may be out, just like that. Sure, there still could be some magic left for Oakland, and the Giants could get it together and make a series out of it in Cincinnati, but the likelihood of either team winning its division series is slim at best. 

The hope for a Bay Area World Series has made way for a much less ambitious hope—to win one more game to extend their respective seasons. 

One week, and everything can change.