In the last series, the A's didn't dominate the Giants, and in the rubber match, the Giants blew a 5-2 lead to lose that game. With Oakland sending two of the best starting pitchers to the mound for the weekend, the Giants counter with two gems of their own. These two relatively young pitchers have what it takes to face off with the two veterans, and these games may be determined by the performance of the bullpen, both of which are struggling for both teams.
The Giants were embarrassed by Hideo Nomo and in the Dodgers last struggle to maintain some dignity in San Francisco. Oakland, however, came back with a vengeance against a mediocre team in Texas before heading to face San Francisco. The scrappiness of Oakland will either allow them to bring the momentum to San Francisco or they should have saved some runs from Texas to bring to the Giants. The Giants, on the other hand, have everything in their favor. Teams seem to play differently at Pac Bell, usually worse, and since Oakland is a young team, they won't be able to adjust to a new environment, much less adjust to Pac Bell Park.
Note: Rookie Jesse Foppert is not scheduled to go against the A's this weekend. With the off day, his spot in the rotation was skipped. Alou may not want Foppert going against Zito or Mulder, and another reason is to have Rueter start against the St. Louis Cardinals in their next series because Rueter has an incredible record in St. Louis.
Ted Lilly (5-5, 4.69 ERA)
Barry Zito (7-5, 2.84 ERA)
Mark Mulder (10-5, 3.38 ERA)
Jerome Williams (1-1, 4.82 ERA)
Kirk Rueter (7-2, 3.55 ERA)
Jason Schmidt (7-3, 2.23 ERA)
In the first game, rookie Jerome Williams is sent to pitch against Ted Lilly of the A's. In their last meeting less than a week ago, Williams got his first major league win over Oakland. It wasn't a pretty win, as that unpredictable bullpen almost blew Williams' first chance of glory in the majors, but Williams did a good job while he was in the game, giving up only four hits and one run.
Two of the game's best lefties are facing off in the second game of this series with Kirk Rueter pitching for the Giants and Barry Zito for the A's. Zito has been notably hot for Oakland while Rueter has been quietly but surely bringing the Giants back into the win column whenever they needed it, especially in his last start against the Dodgers where he pitched phenomenally in his duration on the mound in a much needed win against LA with the Dodgers being in a dead tie for first in the division. Rueter has had a good but short career against Oakland, only giving up one homerun in seventy at-bats.
In the final interleague game, the Giants summon pitching ace, Jason Schmidt, to the mound to go against Oakland's Mark Mulder. It's a battle of opposites as the power of Schmidt faces off with Mulder's finesse. There is nothing stopping Schmidt right now, and all batters can do against him is watch his 97 mph fastballs fly by or attempt to swing right through them. Watch for a lot of ground balls against Mulder, which the Giants will have to be careful of because of their tendency to ground into double plays.
Jermaine Dye (RF): knee (day-to-day status)
J.T. Snow (1B): strained left groin (15-day DL)
Marvin Bernard (OF): bruised left knee (15-day DL)
Scott Hatteberg (.268)
J.T. Snow (.277)
Andres Galarraga (.337)
Galarraga came up with some spectacular defensive plays, and especially now with Snow injured and his return uncertain, Galarraga has shown that forty-two year olds are still able to show off Gold Glove skills.
Galarraga is swinging the bat consistently and well for the Giants, one of the few consistent hitters on the team. Hatteberg has a pretty decent record against Giants pitchers, but he hasn't faced Rueter yet. Although Galarraga likes to strike out, and he's had a few against the A's, at least he's swinging the bat. He'll connect some time.
Mark Ellis (.254)
Frank Menechino (.244)
Ray Durham (.311)
Neifi Perez (.282)
Durham has been solid at second base, and with Rueter pitching and wanting those double play balls, Durham will have to be on of the initiators.
Ellis has a horrible record against Giants pitchers, even though it doesn't include Rueter. Durham doesn't have good numbers against the A's either, but the one thing that saves the Giants is Perez. He's had seven hits against Zito, one of the two players on the Giants to even get a hit successfully off Zito, and one of them being a homerun. Look for him to somehow be in the lineup.
Miguel Tejada (.244)
Rich Aurilia (.259)
Just like with Durham, Aurilia will have to have his head up and initiate that double play. Aurilia was part of a possible game saving defensive play against the Dodgers in game two, picking Daryle Ward off at first base after cutting off the throw from Cruz in right field.
Aurilia has done better against the A's than Tejada has against the Giants, but Tejada has been heating up and Aurilia has stayed relatively cold in the batter's box, especially in the last series against LA. Perez may actually get a start at shortstop against Zito, even though the 0-3 Aurilia has against Zito doesn't do him much justice, Perez's 7-12 will be too tempting for Alou to sit him on the bench for this game.
Eric Chavez (.260)
Edgardo Alfonzo (.216)
Pedro Feliz (.253)
Alfonzo came up with some impressive defensive plays against the Dodgers, including a start to an inning-ending double play in game three where the bases were loaded with one out. Chavez had some impressive plays of his own, robbing Bonds of a hit in their last meeting by making a spectacular catch.
The numbers offensively are a dead tie, except Alfonzo's slumping numbers. He has gone who knows how many at-bats without a hit, much less a homerun. Still, I believe Alfonzo will start heating up, and he may need to be moved back to the bottom or the middle of the order. Count on Feliz to get some playing time and probably a start especially after his hot performance against Oakland in the last series. Chavez's bat has also been starting to heat up.
Ramon Hernandez (.283)
Adam Melhuse (.174)
Benito Santiago (.290)
Yorvit Torrealba (.260)
The combining forces of Santiago and Torrealba catching behind the plate is arguably the best duo in the league.
Hernandez has had better success against the Giants than any other player in this category against their respective opposing teams, but Santiago's dependable performance for the Giants can't be ignored. With two full days to rest, Santiago should be refreshed and ready to play ball.
Adam Piatt (.185)
Billy McMillon (.296)
Barry Bonds (.302)
Carlos Valderrama (.200)
Bonds is the only owner of Gold Gloves in this category and has not committed any errors this season. He is one of the smartest outfielders in the game, knowing when to dive and when to short hop the ball.
Piatt has had decent success against Giants pitchers, but his overall batting average brings him down. Bonds has been continuing to impressed everyone, and his .420 batting average against the A's gives him even more of an advantage.
Eric Byrnes (.319)
Chris Singleton (.299)
Marquis Grissom (.306)
Grissom and Byrnes are both speedy outfielders, both with good abilities to make stops.
Byrnes has been a hot hitter for the A's and Grissom just does not stop for the Giants. There's a good match up of centerfielders offensively here, and even though Byrnes has the better record against Giants pitchers, that does not include anything against the greats of Rueter or Schmidt. Both are expected to deliver, but it's difficult to tell who has the advantage.
Jermaine Dye (.158)
Terrence Long (.245)
Jose Cruz, Jr. (.254)
Francisco Santos (.286)
Cruz has proved to not only have an accurate arm to help him have the league's lead in assists, but he also proved to be a smart outfielder, hitting his cut off man in a game against the Dodgers that started a possible game saving out.
Dye is slumping for the A's and Cruz has not been too hot for the Giants either, even though both have had decent success against the opposing team. Dye may also be out with injury.
Both bullpens have had histories of blowing wins, but the Giants were able to redeem themselves in the last game against LA. Despite being behind 5-0, the bullpen went into the game in the third inning and only allowed one more run. Excellent job by Jim Brower and Chad Zerbe for giving a larger amount of playing time, and props to the inconsistent Joe Nathan for being semi-consistent that night. Scott Eyre continues to be one of the few consistent performers, doing his job of relieving and nothing more or less. The A's, on the other hand, blew a win against the Rangers on the same day. Both teams ended up losing, but the bullpen for the Giants were over the bullpen for the A's. The bullpens for both teams are so inconsistent that it's difficult to tell who's got the upper hand. If the game is into late innings and the difference is only by a run or two, then look for it to be anyone's game. Although when the Giants have Schmidt pitching, they don't have to worry much about the bullpen because all the activity that's happening in the bullpen are crickets chirping.
Tim Worrell has been one of the few consistent bright spots of the Giants' bullpen. He has presented himself as a commendable closer for the Giants so they will look to him to finish off those close games in the ninth inning. Worrell also showed that if he is needed for a longer stretch, beginning in the eighth inning to the end of the game, to close, he is able to do it. The A's have a .125 batting average against Worrell, but that includes eight walks and seven strikeouts. Keith Foulke has twenty saves to go along with three blown saves. He has eleven strikeouts in thirty-one at-bats against Giants batters.
Sara Kwan was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. She currently writes game recaps, other articles, and is the Giant Prophet for SFDugout.com. Any comments or questions about the article, baseball, or the meaning of life can be sent to Sara at email@example.com