Crisp, Cahill lead A's past cross-bay rivals

Crisp, Cahill lead A's past cross-bay rivals

OAKLAND -- Coco Crisp was supposed to be spending his Friday night in Sacramento, brushing shoulders with Mark Ellis as the pair underwent yet another rehab assignment.

He was supposed to be stealing the thunder of a handful of Minor League prospects en route to continually healing his fractured pinkie finger.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

And, by night's end, he was supposed to be splitting the costs of the River Cats' postgame spread with Ellis.

Change of plans.

Crisp, instead, was activated from the disabled list and rubbed shoulders with his Oakland teammates following a 6-1 victory over the visiting Giants in the first round of Interleague action Friday.

And rather than stealing the thunder of some up-and-coming prospects, he simply stole some of starter Trevor Cahill's.

Batting leadoff while playing in center field, Crisp posted a 2-for-3 night and collected a pair of RBIs in his debut in green and gold as the A's easily took the Bay Bridge Series opener, improving them to 10-5 in their last 15 home games.

"Today I told them my timing was right," Crisp said. "I told them I didn't need too many more at-bats to be ready. It wasn't anything medical. My finger's fine. It's just been about getting my timing back. I'm grateful they activated me today."

It's safe to say Rajai Davis is, too. The A's outfielder got his partner in crime back and, as a result, was shifted to left field. With Ryan Sweeney manning right field, Oakland's outfield finally appeared just as Billy Beane and Co. imagined it would this offseason.

"Having those three guys out there," manager Bob Geren said, "it felt like the outfield shrunk tonight."

"It takes a little more pressure off of me," Davis said. "I feel comfortable out there when [Crisp] is out there. He'll get to everything over there, and I'll get to everything over here and then we got Sweeney. It's really nice to get an outfield like that."

As a slumping A's offense found out, it's also really nice to put some runs on the board. Coming off losing both ends of a two-game series in which they tallied just three combined runs against Detroit, Oakland on Friday doubled that total thanks to some perfectly placed bloop hits -- including two in the third that led to a pair of runs off San Francisco's Barry Zito.

Following a leadoff hit by Adam Rosales, Cliff Pennington moved him to third base on a softly hit fly ball near the right-field line that resulted in a double. Less than two minutes later, Davis found himself on second base with two RBIs in the bag thanks to a ball hit in nearly the same spot.

"How about that?" Davis said. "I thought, 'Oh, if it worked for him, it might as well work for me.'"

The speedy outfielder managed to steal third base and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Crisp, who ignited a club that saw hits from every member of its starting nine.

"Having Coco back helped a lot, just having that presence in the leadoff spot," Jack Cust said. "Not that other guys weren't doing a good job, but Coco brings a nice energy to the team. He's really good in the clubhouse, he's really good in the dugout, and obviously he's a great center fielder."

Crisp admitted he was somewhat surprised by his immediate success at the plate, especially against a guy who entered the affair having recorded the best start of his career with a 6-1 record and 2.15 ERA.

Apparently Crisp wasn't aware of Zito's history with the A's, though. The Giants lefty, who donned the green and gold for the first seven years of his big league career, remained winless against his former team after allowing six runs on nine hits and one walk while fanning three through 6 2/3 innings.

"It's hard to put a finger on it because the majority of guys usually haven't faced him," Geren said of Zito's constant battle with the A's. "We always seem to have a new bunch of young guys going against him, so there's no rhyme or reason. He's a great pitcher and has had a great year. We didn't exactly crush the ball against him. We just grinded out our at-bats. He threw the ball well."

Perhaps not as well as his counterpart, however. Cahill, making his fifth start of the season, quietly put together one of his most impressive performances of the season, giving up just one run and six hits to the Giants in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander walked one and struck out four while inducing nine groundouts in the winning effort, which came in front of a crowd of more than 30,000.

"Warming up in the 'pen, I thought I saw some extra giddy-up on his fastball," catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "It was coming in pretty hot. He was obviously a little pumped up with all the festivities going on and all the fans. A lot of times when pitchers throw that well in the 'pen, it doesn't really translate to games. But he took it right into the game and kept his emotions in check. The biggest thing was he was getting ahead, and he was throwing strikes."

"I threw my sinker a lot," said Cahill, who uncharacteristically reached the mid-90s on a handful of pitches. "I was able to mix that in with the breaking ball and changeup and really just tried to keep the ball down. We're not too used to a big crowd like that, so I was definitely feeling the adrenaline.

"Any time you get a win, it builds confidence. And as long as you have that confidence, it makes it easier to win."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.