Their offense is rightfully questioned, but one key characteristic is that they are not afraid of the good pitchers. They started the season beating Roy Oswalt - who the Phillies happened to just picked up, and thus make our hold on the Wild Card playoff spot more tenuous - and have steadily beaten or scored more upon top pitchers along the way, including now Halladay, Ubaldo (scored 7 runs in an inning off him when his ERA was almost Gibson-like), and Johnson (his ERA was Gibson-like still, and unlike Ubaldo, who was scuffed up the start before the Giants, was still on a great streak; though the Giants didn't exactly kill him with 3 ER, but still, good enough for the win).
Now we head into August with a 3 game set against LA. It is just the first of consecutive series against playoff contenders and, as I noted before, the Giants won't get much rest: they get the Monday after this series off, but then play for two weeks without a break, then play another two weeks before their next break. It will be a tough month.
After LA, the Giants get 2 in COL, always a tough proposition, even with them scuffling right now and about ready to call it a season after their closer got hit in the groin area by a line drive - he went in and out of consciousness three or four times - then a four game series against the tough Braves in Atlanta, which will be hard to break even, let alone win. Then we are home for 4 against the Cubbies, so that'll be a break, but then play 3 against the 'Dres at home, then road for 3 at Philly and 3 at St. Louie, before coming home for 3 against the Reds. That will be a tough 12 games wherever they are played. Then we end the month with 3 against the D-backs and 3 against D-Rox, all at home.
Stupid LA, they lose 2 of 3 against the 'Dres, didn't do us (or themselves) any favor. Put us back at 3.5 games back. Not sure why, but 2.5 games back seem really close while 3.5 games puts the fear in me. I wonder how the psychology of that works.
In any case, I'm sure both teams will be pumped up for this series after all the hit-batsmen drama in the series this season. Plus, of course, this will be the Giants chance to put down the D-ger Dogs and the D-ger's chance to climb back into relevance in the playoff chase.
Playing at home, the Giants need to win this series. Since splitting a 4-game series in Colorado at the start of July, the Giants had won 5 consecutive series, in spite of the fact that there was three 4-game series in that stretch too, before splitting with the Marlins. If they can put together one or two more 4-game series wins in August, we should be OK in the playoff chase come September. We just need to battle the playoff chasers to .500, though particularly need to win the series with the teams just behind us, Phillies, Reds, D-gers, while taking care of the bottom dwelling D-backs, D-Rox, and Cubbies. Still, going to be a tough month with the rare day off.
Game 1: Carlos Monasterios vs. Lincecum
D-gers: Monasterios is looking to build upon a strong outing last time out in which he shut out the Mets for five innings. The righty will be making his eighth start and 22nd appearance of the season.
Giants: Lincecum is coming off an outing in which he held the D-backs to two runs in eight innings. The start before that, however, was a rough one against the Dodgers. Lincecum lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks.Monasterios has a great ERA overall, but all of that was as a reliever. Good offensive teams, like LAA and BOS have took him apart, and COL and STL did OK against him, whereas he took care of the poor offensive teams, like PIT, NYM, ARI. With the surge this month, the Giants are now an above average scoring team. They should take him apart.
Too bad we couldn't flipflop our starters so that Lincecum faces Billingsley and Zito handles Monasterios, that would give us a good chance of winning both games (or if we had faced Ely in game 2 as their rotation had worked out). This should be a win day.
D-gers: Billingsley will be pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career. He is coming off six scoreless innings against the Padres after a shutout of the Mets.
Giants: Despite saying he knew he didn't have his best stuff, Zito tossed his 16th quality start of the season in his last outing, equaling his 2009 total. On July 21 against the Dodgers, Zito took the loss while giving up two runs in 7 2/3 innings.
D-gers: Staff ace Kershaw returns after serving a five-game suspension, facing the same team that got him in trouble when he hit Aaron Rowand with a pitch. Kershaw is 9-3 since May 9.
Giants: Cain allowed four hits -- two homers -- in his last start, a no-decision against Florida. Cain has never beaten the Dodgers, going 0-8 with a 4.32 ERA in 14 starts. On June 29 against L.A., Cain gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings.