The Crystal (base)Ball: Giants vs Cardinals

It is the rematch of the NL championships in St. Louis. The season that saw so much death for the red and white and so much life for the orange and black ended with SF the victor. Will this 4-game series wage the same results?

Jason Schmidt will be first to pitch against the Cards today against Dan Haren, who was recently called up from AAA Memphis to replace ace Matt Morris. Schmidt, who made the word phenomenal seem like an understatement in his last two starts against (at the time) super-hot Dodgers, won the last game he pitched against the Cards at Busch Stadium. Jim Edmonds is the only man with decent numbers against the man at 5-12 with 1 HR and 1 2B. Haren has no record whatsoever in the majors, but went 6-0, 0.83 ERA while playing AA and 2-1 once he got moved to Memphis.

Wednesday sees Jim Brower make his first start with the Giants as Damian Moss takes a bit of a break. Pitching against him will be Woody Williams, who is a crazy 10-2 thanks to excellent run support by the Cardinals. Very hard on the lefty batters, Williams has shut down Bonds in the past, giving only 2 hits in his 12 at bats with 7 SO. However, Neifi Perez (12-33, 7 RBI's) and Ray Durham (4-9, 2 2B) have good numbers against him. As for Brower, the Cards have only faced him twice and as an Expo (Expos?). He pitched a steady 4 innings in the Damian Moss's loss against LA, giving up only 3 hits and 0 runs. It will be interesting to see how he pitches in the starter role, which he hasn't done since he pitched with Cincinnati in 2001.

Game 2 matches Jerome Williams against Garrett Stephenson. Stephenson has lost his last two games against KC, the first giving up 5 runs and the second surrendering 5 but earning only 2 due to St. Louis' sudden breach in fielding skills. Sadly, JT Snow will not be in this game: Snow is 5-7 with 3 triples and a HR against Stephenson. Williams comes off of his first major league CG shutout against practically shutout-able Oakland (only 2 all season) and a pie to the face to hopefully keep pace in Missouri.

Finally, Kirk Rueter takes the mound against Jason Simontacchi in the last game of the series on Thursday. Rueter suffered a disastrous first inning against Oakland on Saturday, surrendering 5 runs and 5 hits in the first inning. Rueter has been struggling as of late- he hasn't gotten a win since early June against the Tigers- getting 4 no-decisions and a loss since the time. Simontacchi has been bouncing around this season, starting and doing a bit of relieving as well. In 15 starts though, he's given up 5+ runs in at least half of his games.

The Cards are suffering a bit as of late, with 4 pitchers on the DL and Matt Morris potentially joining them, their closer Jason Isringhausen just getting back into the game as well as their catcher, Chris Widgen (who has excellent numbers against Rueter), out with thumb problems and second basemen Miguel Cairo, who broke his hand against Milwaukee and Fernando Vina. The Giants should take advantage of this with the continued hitting of Marquis Grissom, Ray Durham and the hot Neifi Perez, along with the return of JT Snow at first base (who, if you've been watching the games, looks way too bored for his own good). Keys to this series will be the continued production of Perez and the slowing down of the Cards, who come into this series winning their last two games by scoring 13 runs each (vs. KC).



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

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