The Crystal (base)Ball: Giants vs Diamondbacks

The match-up that most of us have been waiting for. Giants vs. D-backs. We all watched Arizona stumble blindly through April- watching Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson go 0-2 in their first two starts each, seeing absolutely no run production from the players- and it made this writer's heart shiver with anticipation. Our major competition was all of a sudden dead last in the West. Joy of joys!

Well, this is now the mid-end of May and things have begun to change. Curt Schilling is 3-0 in his last four starts and the men surrounding power-player Luis Gonzalez in the lineup are hitting well. It is this atmosphere that rookie Jesse Foppert has to pitch in as he faces Schilling in today's contest in Arizona. Jesse, who lost in his last start against Montreal, gets into high pitch counts early, which only makes him effective for about 6 innings. As long as he stays ahead of the count though, he should be good. Schilling is Schilling- beat him when you can.

Tuesday pits Kirk Rueter, who had a nice outing against the Mets last Thursday, against Elmer Dessens. Dessens is a cutter/sinker pitcher that tends to get into a rhythm as the game progresses- Arizona has also lost the last three games he has started in. Lefties hit well off of him (they bat .351 versus the .196 of righties). Woody's been a great pitcher despite the team not winning in his battle against Atlanta, and continues to stun sportscasters around the country with his ability to knock down the competition with an 86 MPH fastball.

Jason Schmidt and Miguel Batista go at it on Wednesday. Batista has pitched well in May (3-0, sub-3 ERA). Batista will try to finesse with a low-mileage fastball that cuts and smooth sinker- but he misses often, and with the way umpires have been calling games these days (don't worry, that's all the venting I will do), the Giants will need patience. Schmidt, coming off of 13 SO's in his game against the Mets, will need all of that power to beat hot lead-off man Tony Womack, who is 9-25 with 4 doubles against Schmidt.

Mike Koplove, Matt Mantei and Mike Myers have all been doing well as set-up men for the D-backs, as has Scott Service, who is 10 innings with a 0.90 ERA. On the Giants side, Jim Brower (though I am nervous to say- I'd hate to jinx) has pitched his last four games without an earned run. I'd look more to Brower to come in for Foppert after the sixth today and for possible long relief against the D-backs.

It's awfully nice seeing Arizona sitting 7.5 games in BACK of us for a change. Hopefully we can extend that to 10.5!

Jillian Bailles d'Err writes for SFDugout.com and has been a Giants fan since 1988. She currently writes the column 'The Crystal (Base)Ball', a preview into upcoming Giants series. If you'd like to say hey, or comment about how amazingly insightful she is (or not), contact her at JayBird704@aol.com


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