Friday, June 25, 2010

Giants and Red Sox Series Preview

The Giants return home to face the streaking Red Sox after a disappointing road trip. The Red Sox who started off the season slow have found their stride and have been on a tear for 2 months now. In June they have a record of 15-7.

The Giants who are 12-9 on the month are coming back from Houston and Toronto where they expected to do much better. In Toronto they got good pitching the first 2 games of the series but couldn't capitalize. Then they failed to win the series against the struggling Astros who the team had owned earl in the season.

This series begins a very tough stretch for the Giants where they face the Red Sox and Dodgers at home before going on the road to face the Rockies Brewers and Nationals all without any off days.

Match Ups:

Tim Wakefield, RHP (2-5, 5.33) vs. Jonathan Sanchez, LHP (5-5, 2.90)

Sanchez was not sharp in his last outing in Toronto where he failed to get out of the 3rd inning. He seemed to lose his concentration after a series of pitches and fielding mistakes didn't go his way. This was a classic Sanchez meltdown where he had stuff but just didn't have his mind right to be able to harness it. Hopefully he is able to get things back on track because the Red Sox lineup is not forgiving and is incredibly patient.


Red Sox: Wakefield turned in a solid performance in his last start, giving up five hits and three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. He left with the lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it. The Red Sox went on to win the game on a walkoff hit by Dustin Pedroia. Wakefield has made four starts in June, going 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA. Wakefield has made just one career start at AT&T Park and it came in 2004, when he gave up four hits and seven runs (six earned) over four innings. Wakefield took a no-decision in that one. He is 2-3 with a 6.03 ERA lifetime against the Giants.

Giants: Sanchez is coming off his shortest outing of the season, a 2 2/3-inning, three-run effort at Toronto last Sunday. Sanchez walked five in that game, which the Giants still won, 9-6. San Francisco is 8-6 in Sanchez's starts. Though he has thrown only six quality starts, opponents have hit just .205 off him. Sanchez has excelled at AT&T Park, where he's 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA, with an opponents' average of .190.

Clay Buchholz, RHP (10-4, 2.47) vs. Joe Martinez, RHP (0-1, 4.91)
There was some speculation that Martinez may not make this start and that he was just penciled in and that perhaps the Giants would go with Madison Bumgarner. It doesn't seem to be the case and I have not read otherwise at this point but I guess it is not outside of the realm of possibility that it will be a last second move.

In his last start Martinez was effective and was really just had some bad luck with ground balls going for hits. If he can keep the Giants in the game and try to eat some innings it will be a job well done.

Red Sox: With his win on Sunday against the Dodgers, Buchholz joined four other pitchers as the only 10-game winners in the Majors this season and continues to make his case for why he should be selected to this year's All-Star Game in Anaheim. While nothing was easy for the righty in the first two innings of Sunday's contest -- the first inning required 30 pitches -- he settled down to pitch 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, giving up only three hits and striking out four. He also did not give up a hit from the third through sixth innings. In his past eight starts, Buchholz is 7-1 with a 1.62 ERA. The righty has an overall record of 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in Interleague Play and has never faced the Giants.

Giants: While working a career-high 6 1/3 innings in his only Giants start this season, against Baltimore on June 15, Martinez allowed four runs and eight hits in a 4-1 loss. The sinkerball specialist had his best pitch working, but several grounders found holes or went for infield singles. Scheduled off-days prompted the Giants to skip Martinez's next turn, but he tuned up for his outing against the Red Sox by throwing a scoreless inning of relief, though he left the bases loaded by allowing two hits and a walk.

Jon Lester, LHP (8-3, 3.03) vs. Tim Lincecum, RHP (8-2, 2.86)
Lincecum was back throwing with confidence and had his best start in over a month. There were good signs with some signs of life back on his fast ball. In the last couple of years Lincecum has been able to turn good mechanics into a string of strong starts, hopefully that is the case here going against a good Red Sox team.

Red Sox: The power lefty continues to turn in one solid outing after another. His last start was no different as Lester gave up six hits and one run over six innings against the Rockies. He walked one and struck out six, throwing just 90 pitches. Lester could have gone longer in that start, but manager Terry Francona sent up David Ortiz as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded. Lester has given up two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts. In seven road starts this season, Lester is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA. This will be his first career start against the Giants. In his four starts in June, Lester is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA.

Giants: Lincecum has successfully put his May slump behind him by winning his past three starts. He has a 1.64 ERA in that span, a start contrast to the 4.95 ERA he logged in six starts last month. Lincecum, who has never faced the Red Sox, is 5-2 with a 3.13 ERA at AT&T Park. Of his 15 starts this year, 12 have been quality outings. He has recorded 10 strikeouts or more in four outings this year and has pitched 23 such games in his career. Facing tough opponents is nothing new for Lincecum, who has confronted teams with winning records in 10 starts.

Predictions:This will be a tough series and with the bottom of the rotation going it may be a hard one to win even at home. The Red Sox nation will show up in force and will be annoying as usual the tickets to the game will be expensive, these are things that we know for sure.

I have a bad feeling about this series and honestly wouldn't be surprised if the team is swept. However I have a feeling that the team can battle for at least one and should be close enough in the other games to have a shot at a series victory.

That may be vague and covering all of my bases but really I have no confidence in the team doing bad or good. In fact this team is schizophrenic in the way it plays that you never really can tell what you are going to get. But alas that is Giants baseball it is torture and makes you want to drink.

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