The Crystal (base)Ball: Rockies vs Giants

The second half is upon us, oh Giants fans. And who do we begin this journey against? None other than the Colorado Rockies, who have stiffed us at Coors, but have fallen at Pac Bell. The team that once boasted 4 Todds and 2 Dennys haven't done well on the road this year. How will this series fare?

Damian Moss returns to the starting lineup tonight against Jason Jennings. Moss hasn't pitched his last two starts owing to some troublesome outings against Oakland and L.A. Hopefully, this time on the bench will have knocked a bit of sense into and a few walks out of Moss. Jennings has been good as of late in Coors, winning three of three at home, but losing 1 of 2 (1 ND, gave up 6 runs) in away games. Jennings historically has been better home than away, this season alone going 6-0 at home and 3-6 away. The only game he's pitched this year against the Giants he lost to Jesse Foppert in a tough 2-1 loss. Look for JT Snow to hit well- he has 6 doubles, 7 RBI's and is batting .462 against him.

The second showdown matches Jason Schmidt, who did us Giants fans proud at the All Star Game against Darren Oliver. Schmidt has been dropping down lately in his absolute domination of visiting teams and has resumed just being plain dominating. Schmidt has pitched one game against Colorado this year and lost, 1-4 in Pac Bell. Larry Walker has done well against Schmidt in the past, hitting 10-26 with 3 HR and 7 strikeouts, and Greg Norton has gone 3-5 with 2 HR's against the fireball righty. Oliver has pitched well the last 4 weeks, going 4-0 (1 ND). Like most Colorado pitchers though, he doesn't do well outside of Coors Field. In his one start this year against SF, he lost 6-2. Expect Rich Aurilia to play this game- he's 7-17 with 3 HR against Oliver- and for Ray Durham to excel- he is 8-23 with 4 doubles and 4 a .407 OBP.

Day three sees Jim Brower on the mound against Shawn Chacon. Chacon is coming off the DL Saturday with an inflamed elbow and is the only Colorado pitcher to take a win this year in Pac Bell ( he also took one at Coors, but that is to be expected almost). Again, look for Snow to do well against Chacon (4-8, .636 OBP). Brower is coming off of a forgettable start against Arizona, where he gave up 6 runs in less than two innings, but still maintains a 4.47 ERA in spite of it. Brower will hopefully learn from his mistakes and pitch well against Colorado as he continues to sub for the ailing Kurt Rueter.

The final game of the series matches Jerome Williams, who has yet to slow down, against veteran Denny Neagle. Williams, if the pattern maintains, will CG this one in strong fashion- and why wouldn't he? He's silenced powerhouse offensive teams like Oakland, St. Louis and Arizona. Colorado has never seen him though, which could be to SF's advantage. Neagle spent the early part of the year on the 60-day DL, and since starting mid June against SD has lost every meeting against division rivals (with the exception of ND that resulted in a loss). The best hitter we have on this guy is Benito Santiago (who is questionable after the pinky o' steel broke), but both Marquis Grissom and Aurilia have hit well off of him in the past. Look for Marquis to shine in this game (as if he doesn't shine in every other one).

The key to this series, I think, will be Damian Moss's start. He's treading a thin line and while this writer thinks that Moss may be a fine-wine pitcher (only getting better with age), we're not looking for Mr. Right; we're looking for Mr. Right-Friggin-Now



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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