Plus, our starters have appeared to fall into a collective funk all together, Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez all had tough starts in this turn of the rotation, probably the worse start for each of them all season. Luckily our offense came through in Sanchez's start plus he re-grouped and held the fort after that, else we would have been swept.
Now we face the D-gers, losers of 8 of 10, 11 of 15, a pretty bad tailspin that knocked them out of 2nd place. The offense fell a little, averaging 4.5 runs scored, but their pitching fell off the cliff, allowing 4.9 runs on average during that 15 game stretch. They are rumored to be looking for starting pitching and is so desperate for pitching that they just picked up Jack Taschner, whom the Pirates just recently released (but to be fair, Taschner looks like he was just having some bad luck, he's been striking out a lot of batters and not walking that many). And dame fortune smiles on us as Matt Kemp is apparently having some sort of injury issue and is out of the lineup for today's game, the second day in a row.
Game 1: Chad Billingsley vs. Zito
Dodgers: Billingsley is returning from a stint on the disabled list with a tight groin suffered in his last start, but he passed a simulated game test Thursday and reported no stiffness Friday. He is 4-2 lifetime against the Giants and 2-1 at AT&T Park.
Giants: Zito lasted only four innings in his last outing against Houston, giving up five runs on seven hits. In Zito's last start against the Dodgers in April, the lefty tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball en route to a no-decision.Hard to say what is going to happen. Billingsley should be fresh but he should also be rusty. Zito was horrible, but that was at Minute Maid park and there were a lot of dink hits, which will find their way of falling in eventually and give you a bad start.
Billingsly has a 3.15 ERA lifetime against the Giants in SF, so he will be tough to beat here, no matter what, so we will need Zito to put up a game like he's been doing this season and not like the one he threw in his last start. It is like the starters caught a collective cold this time around the rotation, hopefully Zito can get them out of the slide. He does not typically give up so many hits, so it should not be a repeat performance.
Billingsly has history on his side but Zito has 2010 on his side and Billingsley is coming off the DL, so I would lean towards Zito, though I would call it even for the most part. I am thankful that the 'Dres are facing Ubaldo today and probably will lose as Correia is their starter, and while I love Kevin, I don't think he's better than Ubaldo right now.
Game 2: John Ely vs. Cain
Dodgers: Ely bounced back in Anaheim after repeated wobbly starts, allowing only one earned run in seven innings and drawing the loss because his offense ran out of a tying rally in the ninth. He's a strike thrower who doesn't throw hard enough to get away with misses.
Giants: Cain's steady streak of impressive outings went up in smoke against Houston in his last outing, in which he last only 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits. The seven-run outing caused Cain's ERA to jump from 2.16 to 2.72.Soft tossers typically have their way with the Giants, though they did beat up on Wakefield and Moyer. But Cain has been dominating this season, particularly at home, and his horrible start in Houston was his first disaster start of the 2010 season, so I expect him to bounce back with another strong start against Ely.
I would call this pretty even with a lean towards Cain for dominance this season, because Ely had been pretty good himself this season until that bad three game start streak, but recovered nicely with that game against Anaheim, going 7 innings. Being a young guy in his first season, hard to say if he won't struggle again or if he figured things out in his last start.
Game 3: Vincent Padilla vs. Sanchez
Giants: Sanchez struggled early in his last outing against Boston, including a 37-pitch first inning in which he gave up a three-run homer to Kevin Youkilis. Sanchez managed to regrup and pitch into the sixth inning, only giving up those three runs but walking four.It has already been announced on KNBR that Padilla will be starting, so I don't know why they list the game as TBD for LA. Should be an interesting game, particularly if the Giants had won the first two games. Padilla is the guy who hit Rowand in the face in April, but then did not call to apologize or even to check up to see how Rowand was doing. Perhaps the Giants can put a hex on the D-gers like they did to the Red Sox, who lost Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buccholz, and Victor Martinez on successive days against us (interesting idea I heard on KNBR after the game is that the Red Sox needs a catcher and we have Bengie Molina available; don't think it will happen for a 4-6 week need, as they still have Jason Veritek while Martinez is healing, but I thought I would throw it out there).
Padilla has not been doing well this season, but I think almost anybody except for the people in the D-gers front office knew that one. He did pitch great for them after they traded for him last season, but his history was not pretty at all. He has also just returned from the DL, and concurrent with that is the D-gers recent slide into losing a lot. They are 1-5 in his starts this season, though he probably should have won one, maybe two, other starts. He definitely should have won his last start, he did pitch well.
Hard to say which way to go with this start. I can see Sanchez giving Padilla and their top hitters some close inside pitches, but we don't have a lot of games where we can screw around and be head-hunting, particularly against a team we will be competing closely with for a playoff spot. He recovered nicely from his early hiccups and enabled the Giants to win Friday's game against the Red Sox.
I can only lean towards the Giants though because Padilla was very good in his last start, and he can have consecutive good starts. But Sanchez has been pretty good this season so I have to give the edge to him.
Pretty close games but I would lean towards the Giants winning the series. However, Posey's bad streak of hitting continued during the Boston series: he's not hitting, not walking, not hitting for any power. He has been cold as ice in his last 12 games, hitting a freezing .152/.167/.196/.362. He got 3 hits on Friday, giving hope that he'll snap out of his cold streak, but then went oh-fer the rest of the series. He will need to get untracked for us soon if we are to win more games than we lose while he is starting. I expect that we will be seeing him sit more often until he gets untracked.
But it is not all on Posey either in the last three series, a lot of people need to start hitting. Sandoval (.185/.214/.222/.437), Torres (.182/.250/.273/.523), Molina (.263/.300/.263/.563), Sanchez (.161/.229/.290/.519), Uribe (.161/.257/.355/.612), even Huff (.222/.300/.333/.633) has been scuffling. It is pretty hard to win when your top three hitters are hitting so poorly, as Torres, Sanchez, and Huff has been doing, and Uribe has not been that good either, though at least he hit for power.
Only Burrell and Renteria have been hitting well, with a batting line of .250/.357/.500/.857 for Pat the Bat and .417/.500/.542/1.042 for Edgar. Rowand did poorly still, but just not as poorly as most everyone else: .250/.318/.350/.668. That's still not good enough to push either Huff or Uribe out of the lineup, but good enough to get him into the lineup still.
And the starting pitchers all had bad starts to boot in the last time through the rotation, so they will need to rebound from that and start pitching well again, particularly since we are facing the D-gers and especially because they have been struggling themselves.
This is the time to put our boot to their neck and take a giant step forward in the division. A sweep would put good distance between us and them plus help to get us closer to the division leaders, San Diego. It would also be a great statement. We can only do that if the hitters start hitting again and the pitchers pitch like they usually do.