The Crystal(base)Ball: Dodgers vs Giants Preview

Oh boy. Here we go. The long standing rivalry between your San Francsico Giants and the evil, demonic Los Angeles Dodgers begins anew in this first three-game series. It's time for the Giants to quiet all the dissenting voices who say that the Giants are only doing well because of their comparatively easy schedule by laying it on thick against the evil empire second only to the Yankees.

Thursday's matchup will pit the veteran Hideo Nomo against rookie starter Kurt Ainsworth. Nomo, who ranks first in the NL in strikeouts, relies mostly on his 92 mph fastball and 84-mph splitter that sinks like the Titanic. The key to beating Nomo: go back up the middle. With his crazy delivery, he is always in an awful position to field come-backers. Ray Durham should be able to lay down the bunt he's been hinting at all this week with relative ease.

Friday's matchup will see Odalis Perez and Kurt Rueter take a bite out each other. Perez, who has great stuff (fastball, curve, changeup), is 0-0 with 2 no decisions. He will get you at the plate, he will get you if you bunt. Mind the pitches that drop in the dirt- they tend to fall late.

Kevin Brown and Jason Schmidt meet on Saturday. The battle of the staff aces, it seems. Brown has pitched decently in his comeback year, with an amazing 0.73 ERA with opponents batting only .182. Should Jason Schmidt pitch as fabulous as he did against San Diego in San Diego, we will have an amazing pitchers duel.

Giants pitchers will have to look out for (of course) Shawn Green, but also Adrian Beltre, who has managed to round up a few hits in the last couple of days. Throw him something slightly high-he'll chase it. And of course, the proclaimed 'Giant-killer' Paul Lo Duca will be there, after a 3-3 effort yesterday against Arizona including two doubles and a 2-5 the night before. But then again, most of you readers already know what to expect. We've been through this before.

Keys To The Game: 1) GO UP THE MIDDLE. Expecially against Hideo Nomo.
2) The starting pitchers need to be pretty spot on- the bullpen is tired! At least six from every pitcher and 7 if they can swing it. None of this 5-inning, 120 pitches stuff.
3)Jesse Orosco is gone, Barry. Light the Dodgers up!
4)Eric Gagne is still there. The less chance of a save oppurtunity for the Dodgers, the better.

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