After two days off and with some added momentum from his teammates’ play, Barry Bonds will continue chasing history.
Bonds’ quest to match Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time home run list resumes when the San Francisco Giants meet the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on Friday in the start of the Bay Bridge Series.
The seven-time NL MVP likely will play all three games as a designated hitter rather than in left field, reducing the stress on his surgically repaired right knee. Bonds has hit just eight of his 713 career homers as a DH.
Oakland and San Francisco are roughly 11 miles apart, but Bonds said he would rather tie or surpass Ruth’s 714 home runs in front of his home fans.
“San Francisco is my biggest supporting cast. I’ve been able to do it for them forever since I’ve been here. There’s nothing more gratifying than, you know, having them able to catch a ball, on your turf,” Bonds said.
Despite the steroid allegations that have dogged Bonds, Oakland manager Ken Macha said Bay Area baseball fans should be excited.
“It’s history in the making,” Macha said.
Bonds has hit 16 homers in 123 career at-bats against Oakland (21-19).
Bonds did not play Wednesday in the Giants’ 10-1 win over Houston. The victory capped a three-game sweep of the defending NL champions in which San Francisco (21-20) outscored the Astros 34-5.
Since hitting his last homer on May 7 against Philadelphia, Bonds is 4-for-26 (.154) with nine walks and two RBIs. Three of those hits came in the first two games of the series against the Astros.
“He’s going to get back to being a good hitter,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “And then the long ball will take care of itself.”
Bonds is 0-for-4 with a walk in his career against Dan Haren (3-3, 4.40 ERA), who will start for Oakland.
“For him, it’s a milestone. For me, it’s another game,” Haren said. “If I give up 714, 715, 716 and we win 7-3, I’ll be happy going home. If there’s nobody on, I’m obviously going to challenge him. If there are people on base, I’m not going to let him beat me.”
Haren is in search of his fourth win in five starts. The right-hander tossed his third career complete game Sunday, a six-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks in Oakland’s 6-1 win over the New York Yankees.
One of Haren’s other complete games came last June 25 at home against San Francisco. He threw a seven-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks, and Oakland took advantage of five Giants errors in a 6-3 victory.
Haren is 1-3 with a 4.28 ERA in his career versus San Francisco.
He will be opposed by former Pepperdine University teammate Noah Lowry (1-0, 4.11), who will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season. The left-hander did not get a decision after giving up five runs and seven hits— including two homers—and four walks Saturday in a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I wasn’t hitting my spots,” Lowry said after making his second start since returning from a strained oblique muscle.
Lowry is 1-1 with a 3.86 career ERA against San Francisco.
Like the Giants, Oakland is coming off a series sweep after a 6-3 win Thursday over Seattle. Bobby Crosby and Frank Thomas each had two-run singles, but second baseman and leadoff hitter Mark Ellis went 0-for-3, ending his 10-game hitting streak.
Oakland outscored San Francisco 26-6 in a three-game sweep at McAfee Coliseum from June 24-26. The Giants lead the all-time series 26-24.