San Francisco Giants Series Preview: A Battle of Fourth Place Teams
By Nick Vezmar
After getting their first series win of the season, the San Francisco Giants (9-12) look to keep their offensive momentum going against the Nationals (10-11).
This is the first NL East team the San Francisco Giants will square off against at AT&T Park this season, who are looking forward to seeing what the newly promoted Mac Williamson and the returning Jeff Samardzija can bring.
The reigning NL East division champions are not off to a hot start this year under new manager Dave Martinez. They recently lost their star infielder Anthony Rendon to a toe injury, as well as sinkerballer Matt Grace. Although they have won more series than the Giants, they only recently just avoided a sweep against the Rockies and were swept by the surging Mets.
This will be the Giants first chance to piece together two series wins, as their bats seem to have come alive over the last three games. With the combination of great pitching efforts from both their rotation and bullpen, this looks to be an exciting matchup.
Game One: Stratton (1-1, 2.22 ERA, 19 K) vs. Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49 ERA, 25 K)
Chris Stratton has been one of the NL’s top 15 starters going into this week. Considering the role Stratton was supposed to assume when the season began, this is promising for this series against some formidable bats. Gio Gonzalez, on the other hand, has had his moments against the Giants in his 12 starts. However, his line at AT&T Park is just average.
For Buster Posey, who has been reeling as of late at the plate, this will be a good opportunity for him to right his ship. In 18 at-bats, he has collected six hits against Gonzalez, including a homerun. Andrew McCutchen has also had plenty of experience against Gonzalez and will look to build off of that at home.
Game Two: Blach (1-3, 4.10 ERA, 13 K) vs. Roark (1-1, 3.24 ERA, 24 K)
Coming off a two-run outing against the Diamondbacks, Ty Blach looks to regain some of his form from his first start of the year. The young leftie has struggled at times but looks to face a less than familiar foe. Tanner Roark has had a good history against the Giants and is looking to continue his good rhythm.
Plenty of Giants have faced up against Roark, even Longoria and Jackson have some good experience against him. Posey and McCutchen also have solid numbers against the veteran rightie.
Game Three: Samardzija (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 K) vs. Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA, 47 K)
In his return to the rotation Friday night, Jeff Samardzija went toe-to-toe against a tough Angel offense. Samardzija held his own for five innings, as the Giants offense exploded to an 8-1 routing of the Angels.
However, this Nationals lineup might present him with a bigger challenge. National’s first baseman Matt Adams has given him the most trouble in his career. Although he has struggled as of late, Adams has hit two home runs off of Samardzija in seven hits. Trea Turner can give Samardzija a run for his money, with a career 4-for-7 line and a solo homerun.
Max Scherzer is not a pushover either, as he has dominated to start out this season. All three of the Giants new additions have yet to get a hit against him in 20 combined at-bats. However, Gregor Blanco seems to like taking pitches from Scherzer, going a career 4-for-8 with 3 RBIs against him.
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What the Giants can do to win this series…
It’s pretty simple, they need their pitching to continue doing what they’re doing. Not only that, but they need to get some consistent offense together. The biggest knock so far this season is that they score 4+ runs, then can’t scratch a run in the next game.
This weekend, the Giants have scored at least 3 runs in each game of the series. As bland of a stat you might find that to be, the Giants have only accomplished that once this season.
Brandon Crawford has been an eyesore in the offensive categories, and he faces a big challenge this week.
Crawford will need to pick it up and find ways to put balls into play. As mentioned earlier, Posey is another candidate in the “need to pick it up” conversation.
Pitching matchups will likely be the focus this entire series, as evidenced by the lines on the probable starters for this series. Of course, I think the one thing we’re all looking forward to is the Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland matchup. If there’s one thing this series won’t be short of though, it’s good pitching matchups.
Next: Belt and Cueto help lead way in First Series Win
As far as predictions go, this series could go either way, but it’s important for the Giants to win the first game of the series and let the Nationals fight their way through the rest of it. The Nationals have lost every series in which they have lost the first game. This should bode well for the Giants, who have won four of the first games in their six series played this season.