SAN FRANCISCO -- This should be an especially rousing Interleague season for the Giants.
Their pair of Bay Bridge Series encounters against the Oakland A's always stirs up fans. And the Giants will confront Oakland's American League West counterparts, each inspiring a different, potentially intriguing backstory.
Texas and the Giants squared off in the 2010 World Series. Many people connected with the Giants still can't look at the Los Angeles Angels without recalling the heartbreak of the 2002 World Series, which San Francisco lost in seven games. And Seattle will be anything but a random opponent if the stars and planets are aligned to enable Tim Lincecum to face his hometown team.
This year's slate of Giants-A's games has prompted local baseball theorists to suggest that the clubs have switched roles. Though the teams' win-loss records are roughly the same, pundits have suggested that the A's, whose fortunes seemed so hopeless as the year began, are a more energetic and lively crew than the Giants, who have struggled to rise above .500 despite being widely considered a potential playoff contender.
Even if those differences do exist, they're likely to evaporate in the charged atmosphere of AT&T Park, where sellout crowds will watch this weekend's three-game series.
Home-field advantages definitely exist in this series. The Giants own a nine-game winning streak against Oakland at AT&T Park, while the A's have swept San Francisco in the last pair of three-game sets at the Coliseum.
This isn't a major subplot, but it's a subplot nonetheless: The A's claimed left-hander Travis Blackley off waivers from the Giants earlier this week. Roster constraints forced the Giants to designate Blackley for assignment, and he left the organization with manager Bruce Bochy's blessings. Still, knowledgeable observers should sit forward in their seats a little more if Blackley appears in a game this weekend.
Players to watch
Angel Pagan, CF (.320 BA, .399 OBP, .471 SLG): He'd be a borderline All-Star if all he played were Interleague games.
Nate Schierholtz, RF (.319 BA, .843 OPS): Has thrived in Interleague Play since he singled in his first Major League plate appearance against Toronto.
Matt Cain (2.62 ERA, .196 OBA), RHP: Based on those numbers, you wouldn't know he's only 7-9 against Interleague foes.
When the Giants visit Oakland next month, they'll have no shortage of options for the designated-hitter role. Having shuffled his personnel all season, Bochy will have the luxury of giving somebody extra plate appearances each day. Aubrey Huff, Nate Schierholtz, Brandon Belt, Brett Pill and Ryan Theriot (who should be off the disabled list by then) will be among Bochy's choices. Even Buster Posey could be a DH possibility. That would enable Bochy to keep Posey's bat in the lineup without subjecting him and his surgically repaired left leg to the rigors of catching or the constant movement of playing first base.
Last year: The Giants thrived against AL foes, posting a 10-5 record that matched Atlanta for the best Interleague mark among National League clubs. San Francisco exchanged three-game sweeps with Oakland but also won five in a row against Minnesota and Cleveland.
All-time: San Francisco owns a 123-116 Interleague record. The aforementioned 10-5 finish was the Giants' best, matched by a 10-5 showing in 2001. The Giants endured a rough stretch against the AL in the previous decade as they went 6-12 in 2005 and 2008 and 5-10 in 2007.
vs. Oakland, May 18-20 (at San Francisco) and June 22-24 (at Oakland): The Giants have slipped below .500 (41-45) against their cross-bay rivals. San Francisco is a respectable 21-15 against the A's at AT&T Park but has struggled across the bay (17-26). With Jarrod Parker and Bartolo Colon appearing in this weekend's series, Oakland will be out to prove that the Giants have the second-best pitching staff in the Bay Area.
vs. Texas, June 8-10: The Giants are 15-7 against Texas, which they defeated in five games to win the 2010 World Series. San Francisco's elite pitching staff will be tested by Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, who hit .241 (7-for-29) with one home runs and six RBIs against the Giants in the Fall Classic.
at Seattle, June 15-17: San Francisco is 10-12 all-time against Seattle. Only one thing will matter when the Giants visit Safeco Field -- whether area native and former University of Washington star Tim Lincecum will pitch that weekend. Expect an electric atmosphere if he does.
at Los Angeles Angels, June 18-20: The Giants are 13-9 against the Angels, who captured the most important set of games between the clubs -- the 2002 World Series. Facing Albert Pujols won't be a novelty for the Giants, who watched the St. Louis star hit .326 against them with 14 homers and 42 RBIs in 65 games.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.