Despite having the series taken over them a week ago, San Francisco still has the winning record against LA, 6-3 this season, including a three game sweep of the Dodgers in San Francisco back in April. No one likes to play at Pac Bell, and the Dodgers especially. Not only are there fans haggling them in the stands, but the park itself isn't nice to them. They were swept away in April and will no doubt be looking for revenge this time around. As long as the Giants collect a decent amount of runs, they will take this series easily. Oh yeah, NO KEVIN BROWN!!! If the Giants want to win, they will need to produce runs and they will need to produce them fast. They wouldn't want to be in a situation where they're down a couple of runs and have to face that Dodgers bullpen. So, two key words for the Giants in this series as are the two key words for every series: SCORE RUNS.
J.T. Snow (1B): strained left groin
Marvin Bernard (OF): bruised left knee (15-day DL)
Kirk Rueter (7-2, 3.60 ERA)
Jason Schmidt (6-3, 2.43 ERA)
Damian Moss (7-5, 4.52 ERA)
Kazuhisa Ishii (7-2, 2.76 ERA)
Odalis Perez (4-5, 4.53 ERA)
Hideo Nomo (8-6, 2.55 ERA)
Even though Brown lost his second game in his last outing, the Giants are relieved to not be facing him. The first game sends Kazuhisa Ishii up against Kirk Rueter. Ishii won the last game against the Giants with a little help from the Giants' bullpen. Ishii gave up many walks and allowed the Giants to have many baserunners in that game, but again, the Giants were not able to cash in on their oppurtunities. Rueter was a little shaken up in that game and did not look like the Rueter that everyone was used to seeing. Look for him to not do that again for a very long time. It's game time and Woody knows it, he will be fully focused and he also knows that the Giants are looking for him to come through for them like he has so many times in the past.
The second game would be one that brings back wonderful memories for the Giants. It's another familiar match-up of Odalis Perez and Jason Schmidt. In the last time these two met, Schmidt shut down the Dodgers 2-0 and ended all sorts of streaks for the Dodgers. Don't expect anything less from Schmidt this time around, the Dodgers better brace themselves... And hopefully, the Giants will be able to muster up more than two runs, although by the way Schmidt is pitching, two is more than enough.
In the Dodgers' last visit to San Francisco until September, Hideo Nomo goes to the mound against lefty Damian Moss. Moss continues his struggle with inconsistency and also continues to struggle with his control and command. If he expects to get a win against Nomo, he'll have to buckle down. Nomo has been hot for the Dodgers, being their best starter next to Brown. This will be one of the toughest tests that Moss will have to pass in order for the Giants to win, and to send the Dodgers home hanging their heads in shame.
Fred McGriff (.242)
J.T. Snow (.277)
Andres Galarraga (.359)
Galarraga came up with some of the most spectacular defensive plays against Oakland in the past series, so the Giants don't have to worry with Snow still out with the injury. The Giants hope to see Snow back in the line up soon, but they are darn glad they have Galarraga. McGriff's status is also uncertain as he is also out with a groin injury.
Well, both Snow and McGriff are injured so that leaves Galarraga. El Gato has constantly shown that he is able to put the ball in play, and even though his age, size and calf muscle prevent him from rounding the bases at full strength, he nonetheless plays and works hard. Pedro Feliz has been pretty productive off the bench so he may get a few starts at first base, even though his defense is only mediocre at that position.
Alex Cora (.233)
Jolbert Cabrera (.260)
Ray Durham (.310)
Neifi Perez (.282)
Durham is a solid second baseman and Cora and Cabrera are as well, Cora being able to interchange between shortstop and second base.
Cora has been slumping tremendously for the Dodgers, and Durham is going into a slump of his own, but he'll come around. This is the worst we've seen Ray D. in the batter's box all season, which is a good sign because he's not in THAT much of a slump. Him being back in the leadoff spot may give him a little boost.
Cesar Izturis (.254)
Rich Aurilia (.265)
Aurilia is a better shortstop defensively. Izturis has been getting days off more frequently.
Izturis has not been performing well for the Dodgers, and Aurilia has been on and off. He has not been getting too many oppurtunities batting in the bottom of the order, and his hits have come when the bases are empty. Still, compared to Izturis, Aurilia is having a very good season. Oh, have I mentioned how well Richie's done against the Dodgers?
Adrian Beltre (.211)
Ron Coomer (.206)
Edgardo Alfonzo (.223)
Pedro Feliz (.256)
Alfonzo's been having everything hit hard at him and there have been some balls that he couldn't handle, but all in all, he's doing a great job. Beltre has also been a good third baseman.
If Feliz continues to do what he's doing offensively, then the Giants don't have anything to worry about. Even though Feliz has been shifted around defensively, he has not changed much in the batter's box. He may get a few starts at third since his offense has been hot. Alfonzo himself has been doing well. Once moving to the second spot in the batting order, Alfonzo continues to deliver hits and to drive runners in. By and by, Fonzie's bat is showing signs of life.
Paul Lo Duca (.325)
Benito Santiago (.291)
Santiago will be needed behind the plate. There is a good chemistry with him and Rueter and Moss will need him there to keep him in control. Santiago can also throw base stealer out better than Lo Duca can.
Schmidt showed the world that Lo Duca is able to have a night with no hits. Santiago continues his consistency in the batter's box despite being beat up.
Brian Jordan (.292)
Mike Kinkade (.259)
Barry Bonds (.308)
Brian Jordan is good at left field, but it can't compare to Bonds' Gold Gloves. Kinkade may get a few starts in first base.
Bonds went 1-9 against the Dodgers in their last meeting with a couple of walks. Bonds also didn't perform very well against Oakland. There's no more that needs to be said, Bonds is ready to play, and where else better to start than against Perez and Nomo, who both gave up three homeruns each to Bonds in the past? Jordan has also been a consistent hitter for the Dodgers so look for him to get some hits.
Marquis Grissom (.311)
Both Grissom and Roberts made great defensive plays against the other team. If a ball gets to center field anytime during the series, don't count on it going too far.
Roberts has been struggling to get on base recently, and Grissom on the other hand has been hot, and staying hot wherever he is in the line-up. Grissom doesn't want to go easy on his former team, he seems to jack one into the bleachers every time these two teams meet... Hmm, maybe something happened in LA that made Gris mad? Hey, who's complaining?
Shawn Green (.255)
Jose Cruz, Jr. (.254)
Cruz continues to play excellent defense in right field and teams are still scared to run against his throwing arm.
Green has an outstanding record against the Giants, and particularly against Rueter and Schmidt. Even though it didn't seem like it when Schmidt made Green go 0-3 in their last meeting with a few strikeouts and a GIDP, Green will get his hits if he decides to come out of his slump. Cruz has been trying so hard to come out of his own slump, and every time he's standing in the batter's box the team and fans encourage him to hit the ball. In the last game against Oakland, Cruz showed a little sign of offensive life by driving home a runner to tie the game, so the Giants can be hopeful.
If the Giants want to win, they better not be losing the game in the eighth and ninth innings because the Dodgers have one of the toughest bullpens in the league. The Giants, on the other hand, have one of the most inconsistent bullpens in the league, and no one ever knows how well they will perform. Paul Shuey has been solid for the Dodgers. The two righties Joe Nathan and Felix Rodriguez have been extremely inconsistent, but the two lefties Scott Eyre and Chad Zerbe have been doing well. Expect decent outings from Jim Brower and Jason Christansen as well... But really who knows? The Giants bullpen has been one of the great mysteries in baseball today.
There has not been too many guys who can beat Tim Worrell in the closer position, but Eric Gagne is definately one of them. Gagne is putting up unbelieveable numbers that make Dodger fans ecstatic, but force other people everywhere else wonder and scratch their heads as they watch Gagne blow pitch after pitch by batters at the plate. Gagne has sixty-seven strikeouts in thirty-seven innings, averaging 16.3 strikeouts per nine innings. So, looking for some bright spots for the Giants... Gagne has given up four homeruns to all of the Giants players he's faced ever in his career combined, including one to Aurilia, Alfonzo, Santiago, and the injured Marvin Bernard. Aurilia was also robbed of another homerun last year by his current fellow teammate, Grissom, which was hit against Gagne. Aurilia has a whopping .389 batting average against Gagne and Alfonzo has a .375. If anything, Alou would want to either one of these guys to be facing Gagne for any hope in the ninth inning if the Giants are down. Worrell has been putting up impressive numbers against the Dodgers himself, only giving up three homeruns in ninety-two at-bats. Lo Duca and Green are the only threat against Worrell with a .364 and a .357 batting average against him, respectively. In these games, it wouldn't be a matter of who will blow the save, but a matter of who has the lead going into the ninth inning.
Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is one of the The Giant Prophet for SFDugout.com. Sara can be reached at email@example.com