June 8-June 10, Tampa Bay Devil Rays Series

After taking a series in a tough ballpark, the Giants begin interleague play by making a stop in Florida. Halfway through their roadtrip, they're 4-4, but the Giants have always done well in interleague play. With an offensive burst in the last two games at Colorado, the Giants hope to extend that to this series, along with solid pitching.

You have to respect Lou Piniella. The words came out of his mouth. He was quoted in the paper. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays WILL pitch to Barry Bonds. In a very rare interleague appearance in Tampa Bay, Piniella says he owes it to his fans to give them a Bonds show. Besides, where are the D-Rays going this season, anyway?

The Giants let Jose Cruz, Jr. go this offseason, and Tampa Bay picked him up. How many good memories Cruz had with the Giants was erased in one dropped ball, and now Cruz gets to welcome his former team. There's no doubt Cruz is one of the better players on this Tampa Bay team, so it'll be interesting to see him face his former teammates.

On the Giants' side, Edgardo Alfonzo has quietly gathered hits on this roadtrip. Marquis Grissom's health is questionable for the series, and Pedro Feliz and A.J. Pierzynski continue their inconsistent plate appearances.

In the series opener, the Giants will send up Jerome Williams (4-4, 4.68), trying to bounce back from yet another shaky outing, against Doug Waechter (3-5, 4.44). The Giants have never faced Waechter, but Tino Martinez has two hits in six at-bats against Williams. Robert Fick is 0-2 against Williams. This will be a match-up of young arms, young talent, and the element of surprise will play a hand in whoever wins this game.

For the second game, Jason Schmidt (7-2, 2.61) will try to continue his dominance against Mark Hendrickson (3-5, 5.03). A few D-Rays have faced Schmidt before, and like most players, have not had much success against him. Ray Sanchez has four hits in nineteen at-bats, and Fred McGriff has three hits in thirteen at-bats. Aside from Martinez and Geoff Blum, who have two hits each against Schmidt in eight and seven at-bats, the rest of the D-Rays have either no hits against him, or have never faced him. Only three Giant players have faced Hendrickson before, with Deivi Cruz having the most at-bats with seven. Cruz has four hits against Hendrickson, including a roundtripper. Michael Tucker and Neifi Perez are both 0-1 against Hendrickson.

In the series finale, Kirk Rueter (2-5, 5.29) will take the mound in hopes of finally breaking out of his slump against Dewon Brazelton (--- , ---). McGriff has seven hits in twenty-four at-bats against Rueter, and Sanchez has five hits in fourteen at-bats. Eduardo Perez has four hits and two walks against Rueter, but no D-Ray has hit a homerun off Rueter. Brazelton was just called up to replace veteran arm, Paul Abbott. The only Giants who have faced Brazelton before are former Minnesota Twins, Pierzynski and Dustan Mohr. Pierzynski has one hit, a double, in three at-bats against Brazelton, and Mohr has two hits, including a double, in three at-bats as well.

Tampa Bay's closer, Danys Baez (1-1, 2.52) has been solid for the D- Rays when the occasion arises for him to save. He's had a decent amount of experience against the Giants compared to the rest of the pitching staff, with Mohr having four hits in seven at-bats, and Pierzynski having two hits in ten at-bats. Edgardo Alfonzo also has two hits in four at-bats. Matt Herges (1-2, 5.93) has been shaky for the Giants as of late, along with the rest of the bullpen. He'll look to bounce back against the D-Rays, who haven't had much success against him, with Blum hitting .143 in seven at-bats and Julio Lugo with two hits in six at-bats.



Sara Kwan is a writer for SFDugout.com. Got a bone to pick? Just want to say hi? Hit me up: kwanchino@alpha-q.net.

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