Like it or not, the Giants have the upper hand. The Giants took the preseason game from Oakland and coming home from their win against the Dodgers, the momentum is in their favor. Oakland is also on a streak of their own, winning their last six in a row, but that streak is bound to come to an end as the scrappy, inconsistent play of the young A's players will give them an uncertain outcome. The Giants, on the other hand, go in spurts. They often win or lose more than one in a row, and since they just finished off their losing streak and are starting on a winning streak with some of their key players getting hot, this series goes in their favor.
The Giants need to relax and just allow their offense to flow through, it looks like they think too much in the batter's box when runners are in scoring position. With the help of veteran ace, Jason Schmidt, on Thursday, the Giants were able to hold onto a 2-0 win... Another low scoring game, and both runs coming from two homeruns, which means no runners were brought in from the bases. A lot of position match-ups are tied so whichever team shows up and plays harder will be the team who'll win.
Another key is the bullpen. If the Giants want to hold on to win, the bullpen also needs to relax and to THROW STRIKES. Throwing balls just doesn't cut it, especially when you team is trying to get out of the inning so they can rally a comeback. With three young pitchers heading to the mound for the Giants in this series, the bullpen can't expect them to have shut-outs like Schmidt. The bullpen needs to be ready as early as the sixth inning for these young arms. The Giants have an advantage in having new pitchers pitch because the A's have never faced them before. Oh, and Barry Bonds had a 1-9 series in LA... Look for him to do some... damage.
The first game has Australian lefty, Damian Moss for the Giants against Aaron Harang of the A's. Not many Giants have faced Harang much in the past, and no A's player has ever faced Moss. Harang has not been doing well for the A's. Moss can be extremely unstable, but his last outing against the White Sox was very impressive. If he settles down, the Giants have a very good chance of winning this game. The Giants also have this bad habit of losing the first game in all their recent series, so Moss will have to be the stopper of that.
In the second outing, Giant rookie Jerome Williams, still in place of the injured Kurt Ainsworth, looks for his first major league win against Tim Hudson. The Giants have seen Hudson in the past, and they have not had much success against him. Hudson has also been a good arm for the A's, so Williams has another game where he has his work cut out for him. The key to this game will be Williams' control, and this rookie has shown time and time again that he is able to stay focused and relaxed once he is in a jam.
The last match up has another rookie, Jesse Foppert up against Ted Lilly. Foppert is coming off a shaky performance against the Dodgers, where he was facing one of the league's best, if not THE best, pitcher in Kevin Brown. Foppert is willing to work hard for a win and is learning more and more with every game he pitches on what he needs to work on... His velocity has no problem as his pitches are mostly clocked in the 90's and high 80's, but he needs to have more control. With control and the constant velocity he has behind his pitches, Foppert should be able to give the Giants a good 6-7 innings.
J.T. Snow (1B): left groin (day-to-day status)
Andres Galarraga (1B): calf (day-to-day)
Kurt Ainsworth (P): upper back (15-day DL)
Yorvit Torrealba (C): visiting sick wife in Venezuela (leave is undetermined)
Marvin Bernard (LF): bruised left knee (15-day DL)
Micah Bowie (P): elbow strain (15-day DL)
Frank Menechino (2B): calf (day-to-day status)
-J.T. Snow (.277)
Andres Galarraga (.354)
Scott Hatteberg (.262)
If Snow gets back from his injury, he no doubt gets this category. Galarraga is still not completely healthy, but as he has shown in the last game against the Dodgers, he is still able to play first if needed. Pedro Feliz is preferred to stay away from first base, but if worse comes to worse, he can be a replacement.
Snow and Galarraga are not healthy, but Galarraga displayed a show in LA as he smacked another jack into the left field bleachers. Hatteberg's hot hitting can not be ignored, which is what gives the A's a minor edge on the offensive end. Hatteberg has also performed well against the Giants in the past, even though that BA does not include match-ups against Moss, Williams, or Foppert.
Ray Durham (.317)
Neifi Perez (.283)
Mark Ellis (.252)
Frank Menechino (.237)
Durham works hard on the defensive end no matter what the score is, and Perez is also a good defensive alternate off the bench. Menechino is questionable for this series, but if he does return, his injury will not help the A's.
Ellis has not been producing much for the A's and has a .100 BA against Giants pitchers, including their bullpen. Durham has been a hot hitter for the Giants, even though he cooled down against the Dodgers. Durham is able to put the ball in play, and he will answer to the responsibility of hitting in front of Bonds.
Rich Aurilia (.266)
Miguel Tejada (.232)
Tejada is one of the few shortstops in the league who can match to Aurilia's experience and skills with the glove.
Aurilia has been semi-consistent at the plate, but as he's moved lower in the batting order, he has not been able to contribute as much. It is preferred that he bats in the middle, either behind Bonds or in the sixth spot because since Felipe Alou believes that Aurilia needs to be lower in the batting order to have RBI oppurtunities, he can't have any when there's no one on base. Tejada has been on and off for the A's as well and his .109 BA against Giants pitchers brings him down even more.
Edgardo Alfonzo (.227)
Pedro Feliz (.237)
Eric Chavez (.249)
Both Alfonzo and Chavez are solid third baseman.
Since moving up in the batting order, Alfonzo has been doing fairly well, collecting more hits (but also being stranded). Since Alfonzo's beginning to heat up, he should bat in the middle, and as in some previous games, behind Aurilia because once Aurilia gets on base, Alfonzo has always come up with some way to drive him in. Chavez has began to heat up for the A's as well, coming off strong performances against Texas.
Benito Santiago (.287)
Trey Lunsford (.000)
Adam Melhuse (.200)
Ramon Hernandez (.275)
Oakland is a young team with fairly good speed, so they will be looking to run. Santiago is one of the best throwing catchers by throwing from his knees.
Ever since his cold slump, Santiago came back with two hits in the last Dodger game, one of them being a straight away homerun to center field. He's due, it's time for Benito to show he's All-Star material.
Barry Bonds (.304)
Terrence Long (.238)
Billy McMillion (.294)
Adam Piatt (.184)
Barry Bonds has the advantage of being the Giants left fielder all season. While Long has done well as a left fielder, he hasn't been defending that position the whole season, and his two errors as a right fielder play a factor in giving Bonds and the Giants a defensive edge.
The Athletics have a definite disadvantage. They have never faced any of the Giants starters, since all are very young and have been in the National League their entire careers. ON the other hand, Bonds has owned the A's pitching. Hudson has walked him four times, and is yet to strike him out. Long has also been getting worse further in the season. McMillion has done a solid job as a backup hitting .294 in his first 17 at-bats this season, and has started two games.
Marquis Grissom (.311)
While he's split time between left and center fielder, Byrnes has done a good job in both positions, and now is offically the A's starting center fielder. He simply is better than Grissom. Grissom isn't bad, it's just that he has more errors than most center fielders so far this season.
Byrnes and Grissom are having similar seasons. They both really heated up a lot in May, and have cooled done somewhat in June, but are still having decent months. Byrnes gets the edge for his recent power surge. He has more than doubled his home run totals since Jun. 1. He had a total of four home runs. On Jun. 19, he has nine. He hit a home run in last night's game against the Texas Rangers.
Jose Cruz. Jr. (.262)
Chris Singleton (.296)
Jermaine Dye (.164)
Cruz is a master of defense, and he bests both Singleton and Dye in this regard. Dye hasn't made an error, and nor has Cruz. But Cruz has played twice as many games, thus making his errorless streak much more impressive, and he also gets to more balls.
Many Giants players have had quite a few at-bats against Giants players. Cruz is one of them. Yet his is more representative of his actual abilities against A's players, since he has batted against as a member in more than one team. This position seems to be weak offensively for both teams, yet the A's get the nod because their right fielders can hit Giants pitching in general, and Cruz can't hit the A's very well, especially not their starters that are pitching in this series, which is going to be a big factor.
Damian Moss (7-4, 4.41)
Jesse Foppert (4-6, 4.43)
Jerome Williams (0-1, 4.98)
Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.91)
Tim Hudson (5-2, 3.08)
Ted Lilly (4-5, 4.43)
This is very, very, close. The Giants have a couple interesting factors. One would be a peculiar pattern that Foppert has developed. He usually has what one could call a "good game, bad game" pattern. What this means is that he usually pitches very well in his first start after a bad start, and very poorly in his first start after a good start. This has been going on since his first start, and is yet to stop. Harang will easily lose to Moss, and Williams and Lilly will be an exciting matchup, as will Hudson-Foppert. But with Moss's definite advantage over Harang, the Giants win this close battle.
The Giants have struggled with their relief pitching especially as of late. Joe Nathan once had a 0.00 ERA up until he gave up a run on May. 8. He has had an 8.31 ERA in May, and an 8.22 ERA so far in June. While his record is still impressive (7-3) he often gives up a lot of runs in games where he gets no decision. The A's have a more reliable relief staff.
Worrell, in his most recent outing, blew a save against the Royals and kept Jerome Williams from getting his first major league win. However, Foulke also has three blown saves. It could be argued that Foulke has more wins than Worrell, but that is not so important for a closer. The ratio of blown saves to saves is more important, and in this regard with Worrell at 16S-3BS and Foulke at 17S-3BS, they are essentially equal. Worrell also has a hold, which Foulke does not have. But what gives Worrell the edge in this close battle is his performance against the Athletics. They bat .120 against him. Compare that to the .385 that the Giants batters have shown against Foulke.
Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is one of the Two Giant Prophets for SFDugout.com. Sara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jesse Radin writes for SFDugout.com and has been a Giants follower since 1996. The Blind Observer is Jesse's column covering all things baseball, though mainly about the Giants. Questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com