The first half of the 2021 Bay Bridge Series is in the books, and it didn’t quite go the way Oakland A’s fans hoped it would.The A’s avoided being swept in the finale on Sunday, but they still lost two of the three games. And both defeats came in excruciating fashion, with the first by way of shutout Sergio Romo Pet Jersey, and the second a seesaw affair in which Oakland took a lead in the 10th inning but blew it anyway for San Francisco’s first walk-off of the summer. Blergh.Game The A’s left Oracle Park with a 1-2 record, but they did win the run differential battle with an 11-10 margin, and when the opposite is true it’s always used as a criticism so it must now count as at least some consolation. Furthermore, some individual players really stepped up. Here are three bright sides amid the series loss.Starting rotation was greatWhile the games didn’t always finish the way Oakland wanted, they tended to start well on the pitching side Sergio Romo Face Mask. The rotation delivered three strong starts, ranging from good enough to absolute gem, each time more than keeping the team in the game.Starters: 19 ip, 3 runs, 20 Ks, 8 BB, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 8 hitsIn the opener, Sean Manaea fired six brilliant innings with just one bloop run allowed. Frankie Montas only completed five frames but kept the scoring to two runs. And then Cole Irvin dominated for eight scoreless in the finaleNot only did the rotation do all of that on the road against an opponent with the best record in MLB and who ranks Top 5 in scoring in the majors Sergio Romo Flag, they didn’t even need staff ace Chris Bassitt to help out. This was the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 starters, unless one of them is actually No. 5 in the group behind hot rookie James Kaprielian Sean Manaea Pillow Cover.The A’s rotation is settling in as one of the strengths of the team, a change from 2018 when the bullpen and lineup carried the way to the first postseason appearance. The starters only rank 10th in the majors in ERA, FIP, and fWAR, and they only gain a couple spots if you remove the brief struggles of Jesús Luzardo and Mike Fiers. But on an individual level everybody has a better-than-average ERA except Montas, and everybody is beating league FIP except Kaprielian. And everybody is giving the club a good enough effort to win most days, while pitching deeper into games than any other unit in MLB.As a bonus, the starters also got to show off their prowess with the bat last weekend. Irvin laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to drive home a run, and Manaea went 2-for-2 with a double and a single.