Thursday, July 09, 2009

The 2009 Giants are 46-38: Dropping the 'Dres

While it would have been nice to sweep the Marlins and really sink them in the Wild Card chase, the more important thing is that we won the series, and we have been winning series for a long while now, which puts us at 46-38, 8 games above .500.

That sets us up nicely against the struggling 'Dres, who have lost 4 straight games and 11 of their past 14 and has the second worse road record in the NL, behind only the Nats. Their 10 game win streak is now in the recesses of their brains, staring at a 12-29 record on the road.

Game 1: Lincecum vs. Josh Greer

Just it being Lincecum makes it likely we win, but Greer is 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA, making it that much more likely the Giants win, barring any miracle starts. I think the Kid knows the importance of starting the series with a win too. We should win this game.

Game 2: Sanchez vs. Josh Banks

This is up in the air. If Sanchez has turned the corner, it should be a walk for the Giants because Banks has a 5.60 ERA. If he's what he was before, it's a coin flip.

Game 3: Cain vs. TBA

The mighty TBA is most likely to be either a washed up major leaguer given another chance or an unproven minor leaguer. Either way, Matt Cain should mop him up nicely in preparation for his pitching in the All-Star game next week. It will be a coming out party for the Giants, particularly if Sandoval is added to the team by Manuel (Victorino won the vote but some current All-Stars are injured so the manager could add Pablo to the team; I'll bet he does the wrong thing and select additional Phillies onto the team).

Game 4: Zito vs. Kevin Correia

I guess the 'Dres didn't want to subject Correia (5-7, 4.58 ERA) to facing Cain, so they kept him going against Zito where he should have a better chance to win. But Zito finally put everthing together in his last start, and appears ready to start his usual second half surge. Even with the Giants, this continued, he was pretty bad in the first half then much better in the second half:

2007-H1: 4.90 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 1.27 K/BB, .274 BABIP
2007-H2: 4.11 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.10 K/BB, .255 BABIP
2008-H1: 5.62 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 1.03 K/BB, .329 BABIP
2008-H2: 4.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 1.38 K/BB, .260 BABIP
2009-H1: 4.43 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 1.80 K/BB, .285 BABIP (with one start to go)

So he reduced his ERA by 0.79 his first Giants season, 1.03 in his second, or roughly 0.9. If he did that again, his ERA in the second half would be roughly 3.50, which would be excellent. Another good sign is that his K/9 is much much higher this season. High 5/Low 6 K/9 is marginal for a starting pitcher, he would need to be at his best to pitch well in spite of the low K/9. He has not reached 7.0 K/9 in a half season since the second half of 2005 when he had a 7.3 K/9 and 3.81 ERA with a 2.10 K/BB.

Still, Correia has been doing well recently and Zito is not that far away from getting knocked around in a start, so this outcome is a coin flip too, though with good hope that Zito has perhaps turned the corner after coming within 2 outs of a complete game, the first time since his start on August 25, 2006 that he reached that deep into the game (8.2 IP that game) and the first time since his start on April 18, 2003, that he reached that deep into the game with a shutout. His last complete game was on August 30, 2005 and his last complete game shutout on April 18, 2003.

Giants Thoughts

We should not lose the series, probably can win the series, and slight chance of sweeping. How well Sanchez pitches will set a tone for this series. If we can win both those first two games, then the 'Dres are facing the All-Star break on a bad losing streak, possibly getting swept, and looking forward to licking their wounds back home during the All-Star break. They might take a mental break and the Giants could walk over them.

The series will also be interesting regarding how well the Giants do against basically 3 rookies and a relative rookie as as starter in Correia, the former Giants farm hand. It would be nice if the team can do a nice beat-down on this sorry bunch of starters and head into the All-Star break with some momentum going plus blowing away San Diego.

That should keep us in the lead for the wild card spot, plus perhaps extend the lead. Also, with the D-gers playing one game aginst the Mets and 3 against the Brewers, on the road, that could get us within 5-6 games of the NL West lead by the All-Star break, which would be good (it is currently 7 games).

Furthermore, this series will be interesting because Bowker is up and presumably will play in every game of this series. Can he hold onto the LF position (he starts there tonight)? Both Lewis and Schierholtz had hot starts that was amazing but then was so stone cold, that the Giants started using other prospects. Bowker with another hot start could give us a boost, and perhaps win him LF position for the rest of the season.

As expected, Sadowski was optioned down to the minors to make space. However, instead of AAA, he will go to San Jose instead and start the game next Monday to stay on his schedule and be ready to be recalled July 21, when the Giants again need a fifth starter again.

Rowand will sit and the outfield will be Bowker, Winn, Schierholtz today. Rowand is just off, not hurt, according to Baggerley. I wouldn't mind giving him more rest after that crash in the fence, particularly leading into the break, maybe give him Sunday off too. Today, Bowker will bat 5th and protect Big Money who, once again, is batting clean-up. No pressure. :^)

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