Heh heh heh :: chuckles maniacally::
Today's first matchup places Jerome Williams against Ted Lilly. Both pitchers won in their starts at last meeting, Williams fanning Tim Hudson with a three run-four hit game and Lilly scraping by a 6-5 win against the combined efforts of Jesse Foppert and Chad Zerbe. Lilly's out pitch is a curve with a good break that will most likely get the batter to fly out in runner's-on situations which, considering he's given up 19 hits in 15 innings over the last three games, seems to be a situation he gets into often. Williams is showing amazing composure for just 21 years of age and hasn't given up a HR since he joined the team (knock on wood).
Saturday (which is On-Field Photo Day, hurray!) matches Kirk Rueter against Barry Zito. Zito, who has had no-decisions in his last 2 starts, leads the AL in opponents batting average at .197. He's been getting long into pitch counts early as well yet maintaining his composure, as can be inferred from his 110 pitches in 6 innings count with only 1 run in each of those two games. But his fastball is still just as wicked and his curve still drops like the ball got tired in midair. Rueter's last two games have been high tension games against the Dodgers, but he's pitched well, taking the loss in LA but giving only 4 runs in 6 hits on a day when the Giants offense wasn't there, and getting a no-decision despite shutting-out the offense in his 6 innings. As for the matter of ownage, Neifi Perez straight owns Zito with a 7-12 average and a HR (Jermaine Dye has a similar 3-7 with 1 HR off of Rueter, but will miss the series recovering from a cortisone shot in his knee).
The final meeting of the regular season deals Jason Schmidt, coming off two commanding victories in LA, and 10-5 Mark Mulder. Mulder, who took the loss in his last game in Texas, fires off the mound with authority, preferring to through his fastball and splitter instead of his change. While he hasn't the Giants this year, over the last three years, he has gone 3-2 in his five games, giving up 6 homers in total. Barry's got 3 of them and is an even 500 hitter against the guy (7-14). Schmidt has been a workhorse the last two months, pitching only once not more than 114 times (sometimes as many as 127!) with 4 complete games (3 of them shutout), leading the league in BAA and WHIP and placing 4th on the NL strikeout list. He also hasn't faced Oakland this year. The only man that Schmidt may have to worry about is 3B man Eric Chavez, who has 2 hits of 7 tries. Unfortunately, both of those have been homeruns.
One thing, however. Oakland beat the Rangers last night (6/26) 13-0. Scott Hatteberg, Miguel Tejada, Chavez and Terrence Long are going to be feeling the juice. Lucky that Kirk Rueter and Jason Schmidt are pitching- one can pitch around without giving any clear opportunity for the A's big bats (haven't even mentioned the brilliance of Eric Byrnes) and the other can smoke 'em like it ain't a thing. Williams will have to be careful in his matchup today with the boys from Oakland coming off of a victory. The Giants will also need to produce more than they have- the pitching has been good enough to assure the Giants that 2 or 3 runs are good enough, but this is a hot team. Keys to this game will be the pop exerted by the Giants bats, and Williams quenching the Athletics' fire. Now go vote for Benito in the All-Star game!
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 Giants1BChick@aol.com