Not many teams can match up to the Giants, but the Cardinals have the necessary weapons to challenge the Road Warriors. The Giants have an impressive record on the road, but have won four out of last six at Pac Bell. The Cardinals have a one game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central while the Giants have a more comforting three game lead in the NL West. The Giants lost their finale game at home against Oakland, but the Cardinals continued to pound the Royals, scoring thirteen runs for two games in a row to end their series in Kansas City.
One thing that may hurt the Cardinals is their loads and loads of injuries. You think the Giants have injury problems, St. Louis laughs at our injuries. Key players J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia are expected to be back in the Giants' line-up, but we can't say so much for the Cardinals. All their DL guys will be there for a while, and despite all this, the Cardinals are still sitting on top of the NL Central standings.
But, the Giants need not to worry so much. The Cardinals are red-hot, but their individual records and stats against the Giants aren't too great. Most are hitting around .200 or below against Giants pitching, which is a VERY good sign from the Cardinals in the Giants' point of view.
With so much talent on the Cardinals, all the Giants can do is hope for great pitching from their starters and bullpen to keep them in the game. Oh, scoring some runs wouldn't hurt either. The Cardinals come into this series scoring twenty-nine runs in their last three games where the Giants didn't even score twenty.
J.T. Snow (1B): strained left groin (will be activated on 7/3)
Rich Aurilia (SS): sore abdominal and back (day-to-day status)
Marvin Bernard (LF): bruised left knee (15-day DL)
Miguel Cairo (2B): broken hand (15-day DL)
Fernando Vina (2B): hamstring surgery (out at least 6 weeks)
Chris Widger (C): hand (15-day DL)
Steve Torrealba (C): elbow (60-day DL)
Eli Marrero (RF): ankle (out at least 6 weeks)
Lance Painter (P): hamstring (15-day DL)
Russ Springer (P): elbow (15-day DL)
Gene Stechschulte (P): shoulder (60-day DL)
Jason Schmidt (7-3, 2.23 ERA)
Jim Brower (3-1, 4.15 ERA)
Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.65 ERA)
Kirk Rueter (7-2, 3.86 ERA)
Matt Morris (8-5, 3.85 ERA)
Woody Williams (10-2, 2.97 ERA)
Garrett Stephenson (4-7, 4.32 ERA)
Jason Simontacchi (5-4, 6.57 ERA)
The first game should be one of the most notable match-ups this season, with Giant ace, Jason Schmidt on the mound against Matt Morris of the Cardinals. Schmidt continues to excel and is not showing any signs of slowing down. For the Cardinals, Morris has also been a gem. This should be a showdown, folks.
In the second game, the Giants sit the struggling Damian Moss and summon Jim Brower from the bullpen to start, and not a bad place to start Brower either. The Cardinals are hitting only .167 against Brower. He faces Woody Williams of the Cardinals. In Williams' last start, he won despite giving up seven runs and ten hits in six plus innings, raising his ERA to 2.97. Brower will have to stay in control if he wants to beat the odds of a guy giving up seven runs and still winning the game.
Jerome Williams was phenomenal in his last start. The twenty-one year old rookie got his first complete shut out game in the majors in only his fifth start. He's going up against Garrett Stephenson. Even though Williams had a great game in his last outing, he still has much to prove to the league. This is not the time to get over confident, as most rookies do when they achieve something big, but Williams does not seem like the player to do that. Beating the sizzling Cardinals will be another great accomplishment and should be the next goal in Williams' career.
Felipe Alou went out of his way to shift around the pitching rotation so Kirk Rueter will get a start in St. Louis, and why wouldn't he? Rueter has been practically unbeatable in his hometown, and going up against Jason Simontacchi, who has a 6.57 ERA, this one should be in the win column. Rueter is also coming off a shaky performance in his last start against Oakland, which resulted in a no decision. Rueter won't be making anymore mistakes anytime soon.
J.T Snow (.277)
Andres Galarraga (.319)
Tino Martinez (.277)
With Snow back on the field on Thursday, the Giants have this position covered. But until then, Alou will have to see what his options are: to continue playing the worn out Galarraga with a calf muscle injury, or to try Feliz at first.
If there's one guy who will be glad to have Snow back from the DL, it would have to be Galarraga. This forty-two year old showed the world that he could still play, but the last consecutive games has worn him down. Coming off the DL on Thursday, Snow will look to recover offensively, especially since he wasn't performing all that well before his injury.
Ray Durham (.321)
Neifi Perez (.282)
Bo Hart (.460)
In the last series, Durham came up with some spectacular defensive plays, even though he also had a few errors and some plays were out of his reach. Perez also made some impressive stops at shortstop in the last series.
With their number one and number two string second baseman both on the DL, the Cardinals brought up Hart. No one expected this young player to perform the way he has been. Durham has been consistent for the Giants, doing his job by getting on base as the lead off hitter. Perez has also had a nice series against Oakland.
Rich Aurilia (.259)
Edgar Renteria (.339)
Wilson Delgado (.188)
Aurilia has been out with soreness for the last series against Oakland, so look for him to return healthier. Renteria has also been solid at shortstop.
Renteria isn't second in the All-Star voting for nothing. He's been one of the hottest hitters for the Cardinals. Aurilia, on the other hand, has been in somewhat of a slump before his injury. We can look at the batting average against the opposing teams and Aurilia has better numbers, but the only thing that matters is not history, it's how well you're performing now.
Edgardo Alfonzo (.220)
Pedro Feliz (.257)
Scott Rolen (.293)
Feliz has shown he can play third at an everyday basis and Alfonzo has always been dependable at third. Rolen is also a great third baseman.
Rolen is one of the hottest hitters on the Cardinals and will probably be heading to the All-Star game come mid-season. How can Alfonzo and Feliz compete with that? Well, to begin with, Alfonzo is finally coming out of his horrible and extensive slump in his last two games against Oakland. It doesn't look like Alou will be sitting him down for a game some time soon. Feliz has shown offensive power, but only against Oakland. It will be interesting to see what he can do against other teams.
Benito Santiago (.293)
Yorvit Torrealba (.259)
Mike Matheny (.269)
Joe Girardi (.059)
This is another position that is plagued with injuries for the Cardinals. The Giants have both their guys healthy and ready to play. Santiago has developed a good relationship with Williams and with the mutual respect they have for each other, it will be important to help Williams stay focused. Rueter also needs Santiago behind the plate, and no shot at Torrealba, but when Santiago didn't start with Rueter, that was the game Rueter started out shaky.
Santiago went into a little slump but came right back. This guy just doesn't stop, taking the challenge of hitting behind Bonds and doing a darn good job of it. *ahem* ALL-STAR GAME.
Barry Bonds (.306)
Carlos Valderrama (.143)
Albert Pujols (.393)
Bonds says Pujols doesn't have a position, and you can bet Barry will show this guy how to play left field.
Tied, but not by a lot. Pujols has just been hitting too well and too often to be ignored, but Barry Bonds is Barry Bonds. Pujols has not had a good career against the Giants so it'll be interesting to see if his hot hitting will continue on against the Giants or if his hot hitting only works against other teams.
Marquis Grissom (.305)
Jim Edmounds (.314)
Grissom caught a few bad breaks in the last series, losing a few fly balls in the sunlight. Edmounds has been a defensive force for the Cardinals.
Another hot hitter: Jim Edmounds. We'll definitely see him at the All-Star game, and he owns most of the few homeruns given up by the Giants pitchers. Grissom has also been consistent, talk about a guy never stopping... Grissom continues to deliver no matter where he is in the line-up.
Jose Cruz, Jr. (.260)
Francisco Santos (.333)
J.D. Drew (.315)
Orlando Palmeiro (.279)
Eduardo Perez (.289)
Three words: Jose Cruz, Jr. How many times have we seen fly balls hit to right field that look to be doubles or triples then out of no where Cruz jumps out and never lets the ball hit the grass? Too many. Oh, and how many assists are we at now, Jose? Thirteen and leading the majors?
If only Cruz can hit the ball as well as he can catch it. Thankfully, Cruz has shown some signs of hitting again, with a few hits and a homerun against Oakland. Wow, how many right fielders does a team need? Drew is yet another hot hitter for the Cardinals, even though he has a .150 batting average against the Giants. Rookie Santos also showed off his hitting abilities with his first jack in the majors in the last game against the A's.
The Cardinals' bullpen has been more consistent than the Giants'. The Giants' bullpen came out with a strong performance in the second game of the Oakland series, but struggled in the last game, giving up a few runs. Scott Eyre continues his brilliance, striking out five of the six batters he faced in his last appearance against the A's. Felix Rodriguez continues to show inconsistency from game to game, and Joe Nathan continues to show inconsistency all around. Without Brower in the bullpen, Zerbe and Christiansen will have to pick up the middle relieving job.
Tim Worrell continues to show consistency out of the bullpen, sitting on seventeen saves. Even though Jason Isringhausen gave up two homeruns to Cruz, he has been able to shut the Giants down, including three strikeouts against Bonds. Isringhausen has two saves, just starting his career with the Cardinals, but no less dangerous. Whichever team leads in the ninth will be the team to win for sure with these two closing greats on the mound.
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
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