August 27-August 30, Atlanta Braves Series

The Giants proved that they're still worthy of being a contending team for the playoffs after bouncing back from a horrible loss in the first game against the Marlins. However, now they'll have to go into Atlanta to face one of the hottest teams in the league right now. The last time these two teams met, the Giants took the series, but this is a different Braves' team who are finally playing up to expectations.

Everything continues to click together for the Giants, as their pitching and offense is coming together, and staying together. After the outstanding pitching performance of Brett Tomko, the Giants feel like they can do anything.

Also, the Giants' offense has been waking up, and some of that has nothing to do with Barry Bonds. J.T. Snow is back in the lineup, and Pedro Feliz and Edgardo Alfonzo are starting to hit the ball hard. Deivi Cruz has been a very pleasant surprise, and Ray Durham is also starting to heat up.

For the first game of the series, Kirk Rueter (7-9, 5.02) will pitch for the Giant against Jaret Wright (12-6, 3.17). Although Rueter isn't having the year anyone expected, his last start was solid, lasting seven innings, and he's done fairly well against the Braves. Andruw Jones is 7-35 with a triple and a homerun, but Chipper Jones is 14-42 with four doubles, and three jacks.

Against Wright, the Giants haven't done so well, including Durham's 6-22 and Cruz's 4-19. However, Snow is 5-8 with two doubles, and Michael Tucker is 4-8 with two doubles.

In the next game, Jason Schmidt (15-4, 2.52) will make the start against Paul Byrd (4-4, 4.11). Schmidt's start was pushed to this game because of a strained right groin, which appears to be healed by now. Against Atlanta, Schmidt has done well, includling limiting A. Jones to a 2-24 with a double, but C. Jones has done well against Schmidt, going 14-31 with three doubles and four homeruns. However, J.D. Drew is 3-16, Eddie Perez is 4-14, and Rafael Furcal is 2-13.

Not many of the Giants have faced Byrd, but Alfonzo has 8 hits in twenty-four at-bats, including two doubles and one jack, and Durham is 6-16 with two doubles and a triple. Snow is 3-8, and Bonds is 1-4 with a jack.

For the third game, Wayne Franklin (2-1, 6.70) is projected to start against former Giant Russ Ortiz (13-6, 3.60). Franklin was rocked in his last start, only lasting two-thirds of an inning, giving up seven runs. Because of his rough start, it is uncertani whether or not Franklin will make the start, although he's had decent success against the Braves, including a 1-5 against C. Jones and a 0-9 against Eli Marrero.

Ortiz is having another solid year, and hasn't done well against his former team. Marquis Grissom is 4-14 with a double, and Tucker is 7-13 with three doubles. However, Alfonzo is 4-17 with two doubles and a homerun, and Feliz is 1-6.

For the four-game finale, Noah Lowry (3-0, 3.88) will take the mound against Atlanta's John Thomson (10-8, 4.20). Although Lowry was a little shaky in his last start, he pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win, and they did. The Braves will be the next team on the list to face Lowry and his devastating change-up.

Thomson has done well against the Giants, including a 5-27 record against Bonds, who does have two jacks against him. Snow is 9-29 with a double and three homeruns, and Tucker is 5-16 with a triple and a homerun, but Alfonzo is 3-13.

The Giants still can't believe they found a closer within their team. Dustin Hermanson (5-5, 4.36) has been more than the Giants could hope for, saving six of his seven attempts. However, he has not faired well against the Braves, who are batting .311 as a team against him. The important thing is that C. Jones is just 7-30 with three doubles against Hermanson, and A. Jones is just 7-27 with two doubles.

The Giants will face one of the best closers in the league, John Smoltz (0-0, 1.89), who's put together another solid year. The only Giants will success against Smoltz are Bonds, who is 18-60 with three doubles and eight jacks, and Alfonzo, who is 10-37 with two doubles and a homerun.



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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