Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cliff Lee Will Probably Want to Prove Something

Soon we find out if the Giants can take yesterday's 8 run extravaganza and follow it up with more of the same against Philadelphia. Was yesterday an indication that the three recent additions to the lineup have finally gelled and the Giants are offensively better? Or will it be a brief reprieve from the offensive drought the team had been mired in the previous five games?

Cliff Lee is toeing the rubber for the Phillies tonight. This is the first time he's faced the Giants since last year's World Series, when the Giants pinned an 0-2 record and 6.94 ERA on him. Look for him to show the Giants that last year was an anomaly.

Lee has been the number three starter behind Hallady and Hamels in the Philadelphia rotation. In his last three games though, he hasn't been as sharp. With a 5.60 ERA and a BAA of .338, it's impressive to see that the team has won two out of those three games. It hasn't been a matter of control for Lee; it's been the plethora of hits given up. He's averaged just under 8 hits per game in his last five starts.

If the Giants want to continue their maddening insistence on seeing as few pitches as possible, then this is the one pitcher in the Philly rotation that struggles in giving up hits early in the count. Hopefully the Giants will be selective, hit with runners in scoring position and help Madison Bumgarner witha run or two, or eight.

Much is riding on the first inning for Bumgarner. Will he come out and shut down the Philly offense and establish some dominance? That's the $64,000 question, as his last start included an abysmal first inning where he gave up 5 runs to the Reds. I would expect him though, to bounce back and showcase some amazing stuff. Since April 17th, in each start following a game where he gave up more than three runs, Bumgarner has come back with three 1 ER performances.

Enjoy the first game of four in a rematch of last year's NLCS. The Giants are clinging to a slim 1 game lead in the division. Maybe they've turned a corner and the new third of the lineup feels a part of the team. Perhaps the offense will start producing runs consistently. Whatever it is, hopefully it continues tonight and the Giants don't have another game where they have 8 hits and score 1 run...on a ground out to second.

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