July 26-July 29, San Diego Padres Series

After winning two games against the best team in the NL, the Giants travel to San Diego to continue playing their NL West rivals, who are in a virtual tie with the Giants for second place in the standings. The Padres were a different story, dropping two games against the Dodgers. The Giants want to quickly forget the last meeting between these two teams, and hope to do that with the help of this crucial series.

The last time these two teams met was for a quick series, but a forgettable one for the Giants. However, they didn't allow that to stir their confidence, as they went into St. Louis and took two games from a good team. The Padres couldn't help themselves more in Los Angeles, losing two games to put themselves in a tie with the Giants again.

The Padres' pitching staff limited the Giants' offense in their last contest, but the Padres' offense lit up Giants' pitching. Another key for the Giants would be to limit their former teammate, Rich Aurilia, who performed very well against his old team. Phil Nevin is also healthy and hitting.

The Giants didn't panic after a shaky start from their ace, and got spectacular performances from the end of their rotation. J.T. Snow continues his hot hitting and continues to get on base. Edgardo Alfonzo is also starting to show signs of heating up after hitting a game winner in extra innings for a Giants' win.

For the series opener, Kirk Rueter (5-8, 5.09) will pitch for the Giants against Jake Peavy (7-3, 2.25). Rueter was the short end of the previous matchup against Peavy, where he pitched well by giving up four runs, but not well enough. The Padres have decent success against Rueter, with Nevin hitting .485 that includes two doubles and three homeruns. Ryan Klesko is 13-48 with two doubles, a triple, and two jacks, while Jay Payton is 9-24 with a double and two homeruns.

This season, Peavy has only given up one run in more than twenty innings pitched against the Giants. Marquis Grissom is 8-24, Snow is 8- 17 with a double, a triple, and two homeruns, Yorvit Torrealba is 5-9 with a double and a homerun, and Barry Bonds is 4-13 with two doubles and two jacks.

The second game is a rematch that the Giants' Jason Schmidt (12-3, 2.79) will be looking forward to against the Padres' David Wells (6-5, 3.36). Schmidt showed an uncharacteristic performance in his last start against the Padres, giving up six runs in less than six innings. Against Schmidt, Mark Loretta has ten hits in thirty at-bats with three jacks, and Jeff Cirillo is 7-17 with a double. Sean Burroughs is 4-12, and both Jay Payton and Terrence Long are 4-11.

Against Wells, Ray Durham is 18-47 with four doubles and two homeruns, Deivi Cruz is 13-37 with five doubles, Marquis Grissom is 9-16 with two doubles and a jack, and Pedro Feliz is 5-9 with a homerun.

The Giants will send Dustin Hermanson (4-3, 4.29) to the mound, while the Padres counter with Brian Lawrence (10-7, 3.90). Hermanson had one of his best starts this season against the St. Louis Cardinals in his last outing, pitching a shut out game for six and two-thirds innings against the best team in the NL. However, he's always had trouble with the Padres in the past, with San Diego hitting .341 as a team against him. Payton is 10-24 against Hermanson with three doubles, Brian Giles is 9-24 with three doubles and three jacks, and Mark Loretta is 7-22 with two doubles and a homerun. Cirillo has six hits in sixteen at-bats with a double, and Nevin has five hits in fifteen at-bats with two doubles and a jack.

Lawrence has never done well against the Giants, and Bonds has hammered him in the past, hitting .526 with ten hits including two doubles and three jacks. Marquis Grissom is 7-22 with a double and a homerun, Ray Durham is 6-18 with two jacks, and Michael Tucker is 6-11 with a double and a homerun.

For the series finale, Brett Tomko (5-5, 4.53) toes the rubber for the Giants against Ismael Valdez (9-6, 5.47). Tomko also performed well against his former team in his last start, going eight strong innings to lower his ERA even more. Loretta has ten hits in twenty-three at- bats, including three doubles, and Aurilia is 8-18 with three doubles. Against Valdez, Durham is 9-24 with two doubles and four jacks, and Snow is 6-17 with two doubles and two homeruns.

The Giants have decided to use their bullpen as a closer by committee because of the struggles of Matt Herges (4-4, 5.76). Trevor Hoffman (2- 1, 2.27) leads a solid Padre bullpen, but he hasn't done well against the Giants. Grissom is 8-21 with two doubles and Bonds is 5-15 with two jacks.

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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