Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giants and Astros Series Preview

The Giants got off to a slow start offensively against the Blue Jays, they managed to score 2 runs in the first two games wasting great starts by both Matt Cain and Barry Zito. The team finally managed some runs in the finale where they picked up Jonathan Sanchez who had a rare meltdown start and couldn’t even get out of the third inning. I am not sure what it is but if the offense had shown up earlier this could have been a winning series instead of just salvaging a victory.

The Astros are in the middle of a bad slump; they have lost 4 in a row and are 5 and 10 in their last 15 games. So maybe there is still the possibility of having a .500 road trip for the Giants before coming home for a tough stretch with 17 games in 17 days before the All-Star break. The Giants have a difficult home stand with Boston and the Dodgers come to town, before embarking on a grueling 11 game road trip to Colorado, Milwaukee, and Washington.


Tim Lincecum, RHP (7-2, 3.11) vs. Roy Oswalt, RHP (5-8, 3.12)

Lincecum showed flashes of his dominate stuff in his last outing. He was back having the strike out stuff (10ks) but he still was having trouble with command (4 BBs). He gave up a lot of base runners but was able to work out of his jam. He hasn’t been super sharp his last few starts but believe it or not he is roughly at the same spot he was last season where he won the Cy Young.

2009 Stats through 14 starts: 6-2, 2.72, 96 innings, 112Ks, 26BBs

2010 Stats through 14 starts: 7-2, 3.11, 92.2 innings, 106Ks, 37BBs

His last couple starts have shown much improvement and I am not too concerned about the Ace of the staff.


Giants: With two off-days in five days, the Giants will be given the chance to skip a turn in their rotation, and although skipper Bruce Bochy didn't come out and say it Wednesday, he hinted the Giants would do just that. With the two off-days, Lincecum will already be pitching on one extra day's rest, so why hold back a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner? In his last start, Lincecum mixed his historical dominance (10 strikeouts) with his recent struggles (four walks, eight hits) in six innings of work, earning his seventh win of the season. He exited after six innings after being grazed on the back of his right shoulder by a ball hit by Miguel Tejada. Bochy said Lincecum would have left after the inning regardless, having thrown 111 pitches, and Lincecum expects nothing to come from the hit.

Astros: As the Astros kick off a three-game home series against the Giants, they will send their ace to the mound in search of his sixth victory of the season. Coming off a stellar performance in which Oswalt tossed seven innings, allowing only two earned runs on six hits with one walk and a strikeout, the hard-throwing right-hander will look to pick up right we he left off. With his last victory against the Royals, Oswalt now has 142 career victories, just two shy of tying Joe Niekro's franchise record.

Barry Zito, LHP (7-3, 3.13) vs. Brett Myers, RHP (4-5, 3.34)
Zito was magnificent in his last time out. He deserved much better then a complete game loss. He was pounding the strike zone and keeping the Blue Jay’s hitters off balance. Zito has really pitched well this season and hopefully he continues that.


Giants: Despite taking only his third loss of the season, Zito was fantastic Friday night against the Blue Jays, throwing his first complete game of the season. If not for a first-pitch changeup to Alex Gonzalez that was belted for an eighth-inning solo home run, Zito may have come away with the win. What is worrisome for the left-hander is that six of the seven home runs he has allowed this season have come over his past five starts. Zito will look to continue his success against the Astros, whom he is 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA against over five career starts.

Astros: In his last start, Myers was done in by one inning. The right-hander coasted through 6 2/3 innings before the Royals lit him up for a four-run seventh inning, thanks in part to a three-run home run from Scott Podsednik. Myers ended the day hurling 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs, with two walks and three strikeouts. Four of those seven hits came in the seventh inning. Myers will look to get back on track and climb back to .500 as he takes on the Giants at Minute Maid Park. In his career, Myers is 1-4 against the Giants with a 6.30 ERA in nine games.

Matt Cain, RHP (6-5, 2.16) vs. Wandy Rodriguez, LHP (3-10, 6.09)

Cain has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for the last month. In his last 6 starts he has put together a line where he is 4-2 with a 0.92 ERA (4 earned runs!) with a 3-1 K/BB ratio. For most pitchers who are not Matt Cain they should be 6-0 or at least 5-1 over a stretch like that, but not Cain who for the life of him still can not get any run support; in this stretch the Giants have only scored 3 runs per game and have been shut out twice. Hopefully the offense can pay him back a little bit this game.


Astros: Rodriguez got roughed up in his last start against the Rangers, where he gave up six runs in just three innings. He was sailing along through the first two until Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman hit a double off him with one out. From there, walks and hits led to a long inning, which would be his last in a 9-3 loss. Rodriguez will look to end his three-game losing streak against the Giants, who beat him 3-0 on April 6 in his first start of the season.

With the top of the line pitchers going one would hope that 2 wins would be guaranteed especially against a team that is really struggling.

Run prevention shouldn’t be an issue, the big question and it always seems to be the big question is will the offense be there to score enough to get the victory. I have a feeling that the offense will be here, Minute Maid park is a nice place to hit and the team has been hitting the ball hard.

I feel like I should be pessimistic about these games but I am going to be bullish and say 2 out 3 and a .500 road trip.

Go Giants.

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