San Francisco vs. Arizona

Forget the pennant race, the Dbacks are chasing something else now: the Wildcard. With an eleven and a half game lead and so many question marks in their lineup, the Giants will be satisfied to leave Arizona with a series split. The Dbacks are putting their aces on the mound, but the Giants counter with their own great hurlers.

As Mike Krukow said, the Giants are using a "Kleenex" lineup. They use it once, then throw it away. That is exactly what's been happening, especially with the big guy, Barry Bonds, out of the lineup in addition to lead off men, Ray Durham and J.T. Snow. Snow is expected to be back in time for the opening of the series, although everyone has experienced his early-returns-that-result-in-another-reaggravated-left- groin deal. If the staff was smart, they'd let him rest for at least one or two more days to ensure that this Gold Glover stays OFF the DL for the rest of the season. We don't need another Pedro Feliz-gets-the- call-without-actually-stepping-on-the-bag out.

As for Durham, everyone wants him back, but if he's not 100% yet, then he's not 100% yet. He can't help the team much if he isn't fully healthy, so give him a few breathers and welcome him back during September baseball. Newcomer Eric Young has been doing a good job in the place of Durham, and although he has not made any major contributions yet, his presence on the bases as a steal threat acts as a distraction to the pitchers.

And who can forget what Jeffrey Hammonds has done to ignite this team? Talk about making the most of your opportunities... From hitting homeruns to running into walls, this guy is fearless. Another great pick-up for the Giants... works hard, plays hard... You can even say you see flashes of Barry in him sometimes, keeping the spirit alive!

Despite their lack of offense, the Giants continue to play solid defense and their pitching has been superb, especially by Jason Schmidt and Sidney Ponson. Let's take a look at the pitching match-ups for this four game engagement against the Snakes in the desert.

Kirk Rueter (7-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. Miguel Batista (8-7, 2.94 ERA) Rueter performed solidly through the first few innings in his last start, but lost some of his control later on. He was pulled early from the game as a precautionary from the Giants, not wanting to overwork him so he'll be put back on the DL again. Batista has been very good this season, and very good against the Giants. The only Giant who has had decent success again him is Neifi Perez, who is batting .467 against him lifetime.

Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.52 ERA) vs. Randy Johnson (4-6, 5.05 ERA) Williams had rough outings in his recent starts, but that was due to some pain he was suffering in his throwing arm. Now he feels better with the skipped start on the off day, and he'll be going up against Johnson, who, since his shaky return from the DL, has begun to become once again the Johnson that's been a feared arm in the game. Rich Aurilia and Perez are the only Giants with decent numbers against Johnson in higher number of at-bats. Edgardo Alfonzo and Durham also have great success lifetime against Johnson, but with a limited at-bat number. This will be the real test for Williams, who has pitched beautifully against the Dbacks in two starts this season, going against one of the Dbacks' ace. This may well be the determining factor of whether or not Williams will be slotted in the starting rotation on the playoff roster.

Jason Schmidt (13-5, 2.26 ERA) vs. Brandon Webb (8-6, 2.51 ERA) Schmidt has made it apparent that he's back to his old self again, throwing an incredible game at the horrid, pitcher-unfriendly Coors Field in his last start. It was a shut out game until the eighth inning. Webb has also been impressive against the Giants, and was the only pitcher to find an answer for the Giants the last time these two teams faced at the BOB, although his control needed work earlier in that game. Durham is 3-4 lifetime against Webb.

Sidney Ponson (15-9, 3.67 ERA) vs. Curt Schilling (7-8, 2.79 ERA) Two of baseball's greatest names will be facing off in the series finale. Ponson has proven to be all he's worth pitching as a Giant. Although his record doesn't show it, he's had very impressive outings since being traded to San Francisco, but the Giants' offense had failed to give him run support in his first few starts. The Giants have always hit Schilling well, and he lost the last time he faced the Giants at Pac Bell Park against former Giant, Damian Moss. That was Schilling's first game off the DL, and since then, he, like Johnson, has settled down and become the same fire hurler as before. Eric Young and Marquis Grissom have good numbers against Schilling.



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 kwanchino@alpha-q.net

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