May 18-May 20, Chicago Cubs Series

After a very disappointing 1-5 homestand, including a sweep by the Pirates over the weekend, the Giants hit the road for a long trip. The Cubs are starting to pick it up, and Wrigley Field has been playing like Coors Field. The Giants hope to get their bats and their going so they can start winning.

When the Giants don't have Barry Bonds in the lineup, the mind as well throw in the towel. Hopefully, Bonds' back spasms are somewhat gone so the Giants can start playing baseball instead of tee-ball again. Another key player they hope has recovered is Ray Durham, who was pulled from Saturday's game and sat out Sunday's game due to an injury not related to his knee-cap, as reported by Giants' trainer Stan Conte.

A promising sign is that Edgardo Alfonzo and J.T. Snow are starting to swing their bats a little bit. They had a nice homestand and will hopefully bring their consistency onto the road. Marquis Grissom has been the Giants' lone hope outside of Bonds and Durham on the offensive end.

Being known for their stellar defense, the Giants also hope to be sharper and more solid on the field with their gloves. The number of errors don't account for the mistakes and misjudgement of plays that could have been made and saved some runs.

In the series opener, the Giants' ace, Jason Schmidt (3-2, 3.79), who had the Giants' only win in the homestand, hope to extend that streak against Matt Clement (5-2, 2.78), who has also been solid for Chicago. The Cubs have not hit Schmidt particularly well, but Derrek Lee is 6-17 with a homerun, but five strikeouts. Sammy Sosa may want to let him back keep him from this game as well, as he's hitting .158 against Schmidt with eight strikeouts.

Clement seems to have a problem getting lefties out, as Bonds and Snow have the greatest success against him. Snow is batting .316, and Bonds is batting .353 with three homeruns and four walks. Neifi Perez also has decent success with two doubles and a homerun.

The Giants still don't know what's wrong with Kirk Rueter (1-4, 5.52), and he'll again try to figure things out against the tough Carlos Zambrano (4-1, 1.82). Rueter has had decent success against the Cubs with only Sosa hitting above .250 against him in a good number of at- bats at .357 with three homeruns, but seven strikeouts. Zambrano hasn't faced the Giants as much, but has had success against them. Only Alfonzo has more than one hit against him with a homerun.

In the last game of the series, Dustin Hermanson (1-2, 4.67), who's outing was spoiled by the lack of run support in his last start, will go up against the newly acquired Greg Maddux (3-3, 4.44), who has been strugging for the Cubs. The only Cub with a decent amount of success against Hermanson is Moises Alou, batting .370 against him with five doubles. Sosa has eight strikeouts against Hermanson.

Bonds has had 119 at-bats against Maddux, and eight homeruns with a .286 average against him. Grissom is batting .297 against him in 74 at-bats with a single jack, and Alfonzo has had 42 at-bats with no homers but four doubles. In more limited at-bats, Perez, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Deivi Cruz have also put up good numbers against Maddux.

The Giants' bullpen has also been faltering along with everything else. They hope for their pseudo-closer, Matt Herges (0-2, 7.11), to bounce back from allowing the Pirates to burst the game open in his last outing on Sunday. Former Marlins Lee and Todd Hollandsworth each have three hits in seven at-bats against Herges, but Herges has been able to keep the rest of the Cubs' lineup in check. The Cubs' Joe Borowski (1- 1, 6.14) has not faced many Giants many times, but Bonds and Hammonds both have two hits in limited at-bats against him.



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 atkwanchino@alpha-q.net

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