The San Francisco Giants are eyeing their first series win of 2019 after splitting their first two games against the Tampa Bay Rays.
A sputtering offense, for one half-inning at least, came to life and led the Giants to victory on Saturday evening.
The bottom of the order set the table and the top of the lineup cleared it, with a two-run double from Steven Duggar and a two-run home run by Brandon Belt highlighting a four-run bottom of the fifth inning.
After starter Jeff Samardzija lasted just 4.2 innings, the bullpen held strong, with Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta all recording holds ahead of Will Smith’s third save of the year.
Now, the Giants head into Sunday’s finale with a chance to claim their first series win of the young season.
Lefty Drew Pomeranz will be on the hill making his second start in a Giants uniform. He allowed six hits and two earned runs in five innings in a no-decision against the San Diego Padres in his debut.
The 30-year-old saw plenty of the Rays during his time with the Boston Red Sox, though no one in the Tampa Bay lineup has attention-grabbing head-to-head numbers against him.
That said, Willy Adames (1-for-2, HR), Guillermo Heredia (2-for-4, HR) and Daniel Robertson (1-for-4, HR) have all taken him deep. Former Giant Matt Duffy (4-for-20, 2B) and Kevin Kiermaier (2-for-16, 2B) are the only Rays hitters with more than 10 career plate appearances against Pomeranz.
On the other side, the Rays will hand the ball to Yonny Chirinos.
The right-hander stifled a potent Houston Astros lineup in his first start of the season, allowing just two hits and one earned run in seven innings of work to earn the victory.
Chirinos was used as the de-facto starter behind an opener for much of last season, posting a 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 89.2 innings.
Newcomer Kevin Pillar is the only player on the Giants roster who has faced Chirinos, going 1-for-4 with a strikeout against him. Perhaps he’ll be able to offer up some useful scouting tidbits to his new teammates.
With eight more games on the current homestand, including Sunday’s finale, the Giants have a golden opportunity to build some early momentum.
Amid all the struggles last season, the Giants were still a 42-39 team at Oracle Park, compared to 31-50 on the road.
They need to seize the home field advantage when they have it and Sunday is a good place to start.