Astros at Giants: Series Preview

The first week of the season has been well to the Giants, not including game 2 against Atlanta. Overall, the Giants have been doing well. Going into the second week of the season, the Giants have an off-day, but will welcome the Houston Astros to San Francisco on Tuesday.

Since Opening Week is over, we will not bore you with individual player match-ups at every position because we know you know your Giants already. Instead, we will offer possible pitching match-ups, and which key battles between pitchers and batters you'll need to keep an eye out for.

Game #1: Taylor Buchholz vs. Matt Morris (1-0, 1.42)
Buchholz will be making his first start against the Giants. The rookie has never seen or faced any of the Giants' players in a regular season game. This may or may not work in the Giants' favor.

Morris' debut as a Giant went very well. As a former pitcher in the NL Central, Morris has faced the Astros many times. Jeff Bagwell has gone up against Morris the most, going 25-74 with four homeruns and six doubles. Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus have also done well against Morris. Berkman is 20-56 with three doubles and two jacks. Ausmus has a .291 average against Morris.

The Edge: Giants
There are two contrasting pitchers starting the series opener. Morris has faced the Astros a lot more than Buchholz has faced that Giants. In fact, Buchholz hasn't faced the Giants at all. This may or may not work against the Astros, but we will go with the safer pick: Experience equals advantage.

Game #2: Brandon Backe (1-0, 1.50) vs. Matt Cain (0-0, 6.00)
Backe gets the nod to start the second game of the series. In limited action against the Giants, Backe has kept San Francisco in check. Moises Alou is 1-7 and Ray Durham is 2-6 against Backe. All other Giants have four or less at-bats against Backe in their career.

Cain had a rough first outing. The good news is that Cain did show flashes of brilliance during his first outing against Atlanta, and one can make the hypothetical conclusion that this rookie just had some beginning of the season jitters. The only Astro Cain has faced in the past is Preston Wilson, who is 0-3 with two strikeouts against Cain.

The Edge: Tied
Backe has not faced the Giants many times, but Cain has even less experience against the Astros' lineup. Backe has done well in limited attempts against the Giants, but what evens this pitching match-up is Cain's ability to pitch, which the baseball world has witnessed last season. Unfortunately, there were little signs of that Cain in his first start, and Backe did well in his first start this season. The pitching advantage is up for grabs in this game, and this is what young pitching is all about: Unpredictable.

Game #3: Roy Oswalt (1-0, 3.14) vs. Jamey Wright (1-0, 5.14)
Oswalt will go for Houston in the last game of the series. Alou is 7-29 against Oswalt with a double and a roundtripper. Mike Matheny, Pedro Feliz and Durham all have decent numbers against Oswalt. Matheny is 5-18, and Feliz is 6-13 with a double, a triple and a homer. Durham is 7-11 with two doubles against Oswalt. Barry Bonds is 4-4 facing Oswalt with two doubles, a triple and a jack.

Wright earned his first win as a Giants in his first outing. However, he will have to work against tough odds pitching against the Astros' ace and a potent Houston lineup that has batted Wright around in the past. Craig Biggio has the most at-bats against Wright, going 12-38 with three doubles. Berkman is hitting .583 against Wright, going 14-24 with four doubles and three homeruns. Jeff Bagwel is 9-29, and Ausmus is 6-22. These four batters have a combined 30 RBIs against Wright in their career.

The Edge: Astros
No matter how we look at the match-up, Oswalt will always have the advantage over Wright. The Astros' lineup has banged Wright around more than once, and Oswalt has done fairly well against the Giants' lineup. A key batting match-up will be against Bonds, since he is 4-4 against Oswalt.

Closing it Out: Brad Lidge (2) vs. Tim Worrell (2)
Like the rest of the league, Lidge has done very well against the Giants. Alou is 1-9 and Matheny is 0-4 against Lidge. The only player with more than one hit against Lidge is Durham, who is 2-2 with a double. Omar Vizquel is also 1-1.

Worrell's numbers against the Astros are average. Bagwell is 5-18 and Biggio is 5-17 with two doubles against Worrell, but Wilson is 1-10. Ausmus is also hitting .333 against Worrell with three doubles.

The Edge: Astros
Lidge looks to be having another good season coming out of the pen in the ninth, but Worrell is not to be looked over either. He still has the closing job until Armando Benitez returns, and even when Benitez returns, he may not be effective. Worrell has proven time and again that he is able to do the job. However, up against Lidge, he certainly does not have the advantage.

Notable Differences That May Tip The Edge:
Vizquel has been tearing it up at the plate and on the field. He has certainly been the Giants' MVP for Opening Week. Bonds still hasn't teed off on anyone yet this season after having a strong Spring. Steve Finley is still one homerun away from being in the 300-300 club. Look for Vizquel to continue his reliable defense and to keep his high on-base average. Also look for Bonds and Finley project more power into the lineup.

Sara Kwan is a writer and co-publisher for Got a bone to pick? Just want to say hi? Comments about the article and/or the site? Hit me up: .

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