After getting their short road trip started on the right foot, the San Francisco Giants are in Denver to take on the Rockies before their long homestand.
In their last bout at AT&T Park, the San Francisco Giants took two-of-three, leveling the season record to 5-5. This is the second time the Giants play at Coors Field, and it presented a big challenge for them last time.
However, much has changed in the roller coaster of a first half. The Rockies, who looked like they would be contending for a division spot, have fallen off a bit.
The Giants finished off a very successful June, and look to continue their success as they climb the divisional ladder. I expect this series to be full of ups-and-downs, like any series at Coors Field.
Game One: Bumgarner (1-2, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 ERA) vs. Freeland (7-6, 3.29 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
The series opener is a rematch of the pitcher’s duel from last Wednesday. Each starter lasted seven innings, giving up a combined six hits and three walks while striking out twelve. The game was won by a walk-off solo home run from Brandon Crawford. I don’t expect the same result at Coors, but this is still a fairly intriguing matchup.
The last time Madison Bumgarner pitched at Coors was May 28th, 2016. He went six strong innings, allowing only one run and striking out six batters. Bumgarner is eyeing his second win of the season, throwing back-to-back gems against NL West opponents in his last two starts. The biggest cause for concern is Carlos Gonzalez, who has the best career numbers against Bumgarner (.323 AVG, 1.009 OPS, 5 HR).
Kyle Freeland has been great against the Giants so far this season, and will be the Rockies best chance to get them a win in this series. Gorkys Hernandez and Joe Panik have been pretty solid against Freeland. This will be important for Panik in getting his bat back on track, as he went 2-for-4 in Sunday’s matinee.
Game Two: Stratton (8-5, 4.45 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) vs. Senzatela (2-1, 6.23 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
In his last appearance against Colorado, Chris Stratton made it through only four innings. He gave up five runs and eight hits, but escaped without a decision. The offense is what bailed him out, but the Giants’ bullpen blew the lead and the Rockies avoided a sweep. The setback was an unwelcome finish to an otherwise great June for Stratton. Still, it just continues to prove that he is a much more successful pitcher on the road. The Rockies lineup gave Stratton some trouble, so he will need to clean up those mistake pitches made on Thursday.
In the other corner is Antonio Senzatela, who will be making his first start this season. Senzatela spent a good portion of his season in Albuquerque after some rough bullpen outings in April. The last time the Giants saw Senzatela start against them was in June of last season. In three starts against the Giants, he gave up 9 runs and 17 hits over a combined 20 innings. Most of the Giants lineup has hit well against Senzatela, including Panik and Brandon Belt.
Game Three: Suarez (3-4, 4.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs. Anderson (5-3, 4.23 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
Coming off a great start in Arizona, Andrew Suarez turned around an abysmal start to his season. In his last start against the Rockies, he went five innings and gave up three earned runs. The Giants offense could not overcome the extra innings loss, pushing them to 25-29. Suarez flirts a lot with the strike zone, but only gave up one home run at Coors Field to Trevor Story. The 3-run home run deflated Suarez’s otherwise decent start, so expect him to be hungry for a win.
Tyler Anderson suffers from the same home struggles as the rest of the rotation. Even in his last start against the Giants at AT&T Park, he struggled in the sixth inning and was pulled. Brandon Crawford and Gorkys Hernandez both have home runs against Anderson. It was Gorkys’ two-run shot that started a comeback effort by the Giants which sealed a home split in mid-May.
Avoiding a Rockie Finish…
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Last season, Coors Field was a death sentence for the Giants. The Giants were 1-9 in Denver, unable to pull off a win until early September. This season has been a bit of a different story. Had it not been for runs given up by Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland, the Giants could have pulled off a series win at Coors, which has not been done since May of 2016.
Austin Slater has been a welcome surprise in left field, especially after Mac Williamson‘s struggles since returning from the disabled list. The Brandons continue their hot seasons, both in hitting and defense. Alen Hanson will get some starting time at third base due to Pablo Sandoval‘s contusion, and he has been a big shot in the arm for this lineup.
The bullpen continues to be the biggest source of frustration for Orange and Black. The rotation needs to continue the dominance they found in June, especially since Sunday’s game was very bullpen heavy. Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson have been the two biggest scapegoats, being unable to handle some high pressure situations.
Remember…Coors Field giveth, and Coors Field taketh away. The Giants have to be sharp on both ends of they intend to leave Denver relatively unscathed. It bodes well for the Giants if they can get a series win before heading back home, and with their rhythm I would expect nothing less.