The Crystal (base)Ball:Giants vs Dbacks

Questec cameras, beware!! Curt Shilling has returned! The dominating D-backs pitcher apparently is tickety-boo after several weeks of bench time recovering from a broken hand. Will the Giants be able to quell the red-hot storm that is Arizona? Let's have a look, shall we.

Jason Schmidt leads off the series, pitching against Miguel Batista after 6 days of rest. Schmidt, who does his best work on said rest, is coming off his first loss in quite some time against the San Diego (thank you for killing LA) Padres. The two games Schmidt has pitched against Arizona this year have both resulted in wins, one a complete game shutout (in AZ) and a 9-inning stalemate that resolved itself only after 13 innings. In both of these games, David Dellucci and Alex Cintron have hit well. However, if there is one thing that Schmidt has been excellent at lately, it's been shutting down the power hitters. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds grabbed their bats and took their bench at the mere sight of Jason's fastball.

Miguel Batista has been the Diamondbacks ace since the double injury. The D-backs have won Batista's last 5 starts (him only taking 3 of them). Felipe Alou may have a problem though: while Neifi Perez has a .462 average against Batista, Rich Aurilia has 2 homeruns and 5 RBI's, the most on the team against Batista in either category.

Saturday's game sees Jerome Williams pitching against Curt Schilling. Williams has been the man since he re-emerged as Kurt Ainsworth's replacement, 4 straight wins against 2 great teams (Oakland, St. Louis) with 2 complete games. Williams has never met the D-backs on the mound, but when he's not mowing down 7 at the plate, he's drawing 10+ ground balls. It will be interesting to see how Williams does in the Questec ballpark that is the BOB and whether that will hinder his pitching.

Schilling on the comeback will be looking to remedy the 4-3 record with 3.04 ERA, atrotious considering the pitcher. His losses this year include San Diego (before they were hot), Colorado (while they were hot) and Milwaukee (who are never hot), which is just slight of pathetic. So look for him to pitch with a vengeance. If he gives any pitch away, I'll be shocked and amazed. This man isn't afraid of Questec and will shoot the corners, beware!

Finally, Jim Brower meets AZ's answer to Jerome Williams, Brandon Webb on the final game before the break. Brower has earned his spot on the Giants starting 5, being durable and diligent in his bullpen starts and replacing Damian Moss well in the start against St. Louis and Kirk Rueter when he was injured in the second inning against the same team. Brower will be going on only 3 days rest, which may be a factor as he does slow down with heavy use. I'd expect maybe a early replacement by Chad Zerbe or Joe Nathan, depending on how Alou uses him in the Schmidt/Williams games.'

Brandon Webb laid the smack down against Colorado in his last two starts, giving up only 1 run in 7 innings inColorado and 3 against them at the BOB. He has the lowest ERA in the NL and trails only Schmidt in WHIP- great numbers for a rookie. He's never faced the Giants, but he's pitched well against hard- hitting teams like Atlanta and Houston.

Despite the sweep in Colorado, look for the Giants to gain a second wind in this crazy stretch of games and take 2 of 3. The Giants need to stay ahead of the D-backs- I can't stress that enough. Edgardo Alfonso will need to be a player. The shortstop, whichever plays will need to be on. Benito Santiago and Yorvit Torrealba will need to watch the strike zone. Good luck boys!

Jillian Bailles d'Err writes for 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

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