The Crystal (base)Ball: Giants vs Phillies Preview

Coming off of a two-game winning streak which followed a two-game losing streak, the Giants are heading to Philidelphia with their young arms. Keys to the game include their bullpen, how well David Bell knows his former teammates, and if Philidelphia's Jim Thome will continue to struggle at his home stadium

In this preview, I am filling in for Jillian Bailles d'Err. The Giants are coming into Philadelphia with a two-game winning streak. Their most recent game was a 3-1 win against the Pirates, with Damian Moss winning his 4th game of the season by pitching seven scoreless innings.

Going into the new series, some questions arise. Will Kurt Ainsworth rebound from his first loss? And who will be pitching the second game of the series? It is believed that Felipe Alou will call up a Triple-A starter.

The Friday, Apr. 25 game features Kurt Ainsworth (3-1, 5.40) and Vicente Padilla (3-1. 2.30). In his most recent start, Padilla pitched a 4-0 complete-game shutout against the Atlanta Braves, while Ainsworth's most recent game was a 16-4 loss where he gave up six earned runs in 4.1 innings. Ainsworth's ERA has increased from 2.57 to 5.40 after his two most recent starts. Padilla, on the other hand, has had his ERA decline from 3.46 to 2.31 over his past two starts. However, Ainsworth has more ground balls than fly balls, while Padilla is the opposite. Having a lot of ground balls means a better chance for double plays. With Ainsworth not pitching more than 5 innings since his 8 inning outing against the Dodgers on Apr. 10, the Giants will likely have to use their bullpen.

While the Giants are not sure who their pitcher will be for the Saturday game, the Phillies will be bringing in Brandon Duckworth, who only has pitched one start, on the 20th, against the Braves. The result was an 8-1 loss, and Duckworth surrendered seven runs (six earned) before ducking out after just 1.1 innings. With the Giants bringing in an inexperienced rookie, and the Phillies using a starter with a 2003 ERA of 40.50 and a career ERA of 5.05, both teams should be expected to rely on their bullpens.

On Sunday, Jesse Foppert will have his second start of the season. While he gave up five runs in his first inning as a starter on Tuesday, he did not give up any runs in three more innings, which is a good sign for his future as a starter. The Phillies are sending Kevin Millwood (3-1, 4.74) to the hill. His most recent game on the 20th was a 5-2 win where he pitched six innings, giving up just one run. However, recently, Millwood has had control problems. Over his past two starts, he has given up eight walks and over his first three start he only gave up four free passes. The Phillies will likely have to rely somewhat heavily on their bullpen, because Millwood has not pitched more than six innings in a start this season.

Basically, a key to this series would be the Giants bullpen, if they will be able to hold leads or keep games close. Also, David Bell, who was a Giant for the 2002 season is now on the Phillies. He may be able to give his pitchers tips on how to pitch to Rich Aurilia, Marvin Benard, Barry Bonds, J.T. Snow, and Benito Santiago, who were his former teammates. However, since all three of the Giants pitchers are rookies, Bell will not have any insider information about them.

The Phillies recently acquired slugger Jim Thome in the offseason, who hit .304-52--118 for the Indians in 2002. This season, he has not faired as well, hitting only 2 home runs in his first 79 at bats. Additionally, his batting average at home in Veterans stadium is only .152, while on the road he has hit .455. His lack of production at home could affect the outcome of the series.

Jesse Radin writes for and has been a Giants follower since 1996.

Giants Farm Top Stories