The D-backs are 6-10 under their new manager, D-ger nemesis Kirk Gibson, and just as bad overall. All of that pain has been on the road, as they have been able to stay around .500 at home. But they are coming off a series sweep over the Mets, who are still reeling from the beat down the Giants gave them. Given the Giants are surging and the D-backs not so much overall but nice sweep, the Giants need to take them down a notch plus pick up another game closer to the 'Dres.
Game 1: Rodrigo Lopez vs. Cain
Giants: Cain also began the second half on a high note, making only one mistake -- allowing a two-run homer -- in seven stellar innings against the Mets. The win broke a five-start winless drought for Cain who, in his last start against the D-backs, threw a one-hit shutout.
D-backs: Lopez's issue with the long ball continued on Saturday against the Padres. The crafty righty yielded four in his six-inning start at pitcher-friendly PETCO Park and has allowed 23 total dingers in 19 outings this season. He is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three July starts.Cain usually goes on a second half tear at some point. Now would be as good as any. But he's been generally very good all season, which should be more than good enough to take down Lopez.
Lopez is a journeyman whose journey probably is ending in Arizona. No pitcher looking for employment the following season would chose Arizona, a hitter's home park, unless they had no other option (or a bad agent). He has actually been OK on the road, but at home, 4.95 ERA. But against the Giants he has been truly horrible, three bad starts in his career, horrible start earlier this season, 5 IP, 10 hits, 6 ER, 2 HR.
Should be a Giants win, going away. I would be very disappointed if we somehow lost this game. Plus we need to start the series on a good note as that is the only way we could hope to win this series, start off with a win, else we would have to win three.
Giants: Sanchez was part of an epic pitching duel against the Mets' Johan Santana in his last outing, taking the no-decision. Sanchez allowed two runs, coming on a ground-rule double and solo homer, and only four other hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one.
D-backs: Sunday in San Diego, Jackson allowed four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He has allowed at least four earned runs in three straight starts. Walks are a part of the problem: Jackson has issued three-plus free passes in four straight outings.
Sanchez, as I noted in my LA post, showed a lot of maturity in his last start, which is very encouraging for his future. He needs to continue that in this start, and he seems up to the task. However, he has pitched horribly in Chase Field previously. The good thing is that was then and not now, for in 2009 he pitched well there, with an ERA of 2.25. Gave up way too many walks, but also struck out a whole lot while keeping the hits to a minimum.
Should be a Giants win, though not as much a gimme as Game 1, given Jackson's history against us. We need Sanchez to step up again in this start, and that should win it for us.
Giants: In Bumgarner's last outing, the rookie left-hander earned his third win and first against the archrival Dodgers. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, being removed after tiring in the sixth.
D-backs: Ian Kennedy was solid, not special, on Monday against the Mets, allowing one run on four hits over five innings. He picked up back-to-back wins for the second time this season. The club is continuing to monitor his second-half workload, hence his 86 pitches against New York.
Bumgarner has been impressive in his starts so far for the Giants. Him tiring is not a good sign, the Giants will probably be skipping a start here and there to keep his arm well-rested, probably with Wellemeyer getting those spot starts. Still, he has done well everywhere he has gone so far, so it would be hard to say otherwise here, except that it IS Chase Field, a hitter's park. However, this park hurts right-handed power while boosting left-handed power (hence why Adam LaRoche ended up here), which should work to Bumgarner's (and Sanchez's) advantage.
Have to call this a coin-flip. Kennedy has been great at home, and despite that his ERA has been bad since June began, 4.98 ERA, he has pitched well still at home. Bumgarner has been great pitching anywhere, the league obviously has not figured him out yet, so we'll just have to ride the wave until it ends.
Where I would have to give us an edge is that their bullpen is pretty bad, outside of Aaron Heilman, and the D-backs have been careful with Kennedy, giving him a pitch count limit. That has led to him only pitching into the 6th inning in recent starts (last four starts), and forcing them to bring in the bullepn. This probably gives us an edge in most of these games, that once we get into their bullpen, sometimes they are just adding oil to the fire.
Giants: After two outstanding outings, Lincecum took a step back in his last start, giving up five runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers. Lincecum struggled in his last outing against Arizona on May 20, giving up five runs on five hits in only five innings.
D-backs: In his fourth career start Tuesday vs. the Mets, Enright was at his best. The right-hander twirled a career-high eight innings, retiring 14 in a row at one point, and held the Mets to one run (a solo dinger) on five hits. He also struck out a career-high eight.
However, this is still Tim Lincecum. Despite Lincecum's struggles, particularly in his last start against LA, I have to think that he'll be good again. He has handled them OK previously in Chase, 3.81 ERA, but he was knocked around in his earlier outing here against them this season. But, last start notwithstanding, Lincecum appears to have made changes that enabled him to pitch very well in the two starts previous, so that was a different Lincecum they faced earlier.
If it's Lincecum, then it's win-day, as Krukow likes to say. Enright has pitched well, but he wasn't that great in the minors (hence the non-ranking by BA) plus he was old for the league for a prospect, so he's been performing way better than could be expected for the majors, and thus could be exposed at some point. Still, he has been great so far, so we have to give him his due on that end, and probably call it even. Ultimately, it's Franchise so I would lean towards him.
Nothing could be better about this road trip to Arizona: we miss Dan Haren. He doesn't have a great overall ERA but has been great since June started and has been generally great as a pitcher, particularly in his days with the D-backs. We dodged a bullet missing him on this series, and greatly improves out chances of winning this series. People don't always realize how much missing the other team's best starters help in winning series (or alternatively, how that bites you in the rear when you end up facing a bunch of top starters).
Overall, it looks like a gimme for the Giants to break even in the series, and likely that they win the series. But it will be tough beating Kennedy or Enright, so we will need the Giants to step up and beat at least one of them. It would not have been as necessary to win the series had the Giants swept the D-gers, but still, it is just better to win each series that you can, and this one is one that should happen.
Plus, San Diego will be facing the Pirates over the weekend, so they are probably winning again, we don't want to end up even more games back. And they have a light schedule for the next few weeks, facing the Pirates and D-backs for 9 games (but also LA for 6). We need to keep pace.
It would have been nice to sweep the D-gers, but we should be happy with winning the series and putting another game in-between the teams. We could have just as easily lost the second game and the series with it. And I would add that the offense won that game for us, Lincecum was really bad. Hopefully the offense can continue chugging along and producing for us, and the pitching can continue to be dominating as it is capable of, as the offense won't be hot forever.