The Giants fell short in the series finale in St. Louis after tasting the sweetness of limiting the best offensive team to three runs in three games. After losing the first series shamefully to the Giants, the Cardinals seek for revenge at Pac Bell Park. The Cardinals, who average about six runs per game, scored only three runs in the first three games in the four-game series against the Giants. That was unbelievable, and who would have thought that the Giants' pitching staff would completely shut down the Cardinals' offense? Alright, Jason Schmidt, that was a given. But rookie Jerome Williams and a reliever who spot started, Jim Brower also? Who would have thought? No complaints here, though.
The one big surprise of the last long and arduous meeting between these two teams was Kirk Rueter. Rueter has been 5-0 at Busch Stadium and has always pitched well in his hometown. Felipe Alou even went out of his way to make sure that Rueter started in St. Louis. Well, Rueter gave up eight runs in one inning, when the exploding Cardinals offense came back with a vengeance in the finale game of the series. Granted, the Giants did not send up their best offensive line-up to give Rueter much support on the offensive end, but the Giants still mustered up five runs, which was more than enough to win any of the previous three games at Busch Stadium.
Both teams are coming off a winning series. The Cardinals have won back their place atop of the NL Central Division after dropping a few games while losing to the Giants. The Giants have also cushioned their NL West lead with the Dbacks and the Dodgers dooking it out in LA. The Giants had a few close ones in San Diego while the Cardinals continued their offensive dominance against Chicago.
Now that the series has moved to Pac Bell, the Cardinals' offense will be in even more trouble. Not only is Pac Bell the home of the Giants, but it is also one of the hardest ballparks to hit in. Can't you just see Albert Pujols and Jim Edmounds driving the ball only to see it fly into the glove of Jose Cruz, Jr.? It's going to be a wonderful series.
Garrett Stephenson (4-8, 4.29 ERA)
Jason Simontacchi (6-4, 6.64 ERA)
Jerome Williams (3-1, 3.35 ERA)
Kirk Rueter (7-3, 4.44 ERA)
There is no stopping Jerome Williams right now. He has definitely settled in at the big league level and is showing everyone that age means nothing. This rookie showed up Garrett Stephenson in their last meeting, with Stephenson giving up four runs to the Giants and Williams only giving up one run to the Cardinals. Not only has Williams been phenomenal, but he's limited Pujols, Edmounds, Renteria, and Rolen to only one hit in twelve combined at-bats against him. How impressive is that?
Woody, Woody, Woody... No, not Woody Williams, but OUR Woody. Rueter has had really shaky starts recently, which is not like him at all. Many think he'll get himself together soon enough, and I am no different. Rueter will win this one and you can bet his determination brought him to the mound everyday to throw pitch after pitch until he's worked himself out.
Tino Martinez (.288)
J.T Snow (.274)
Andres Galarraga (.296)
Snow immediately showed how important his presence was in the defense for the Giants. The Giants have rarely committed any errors since his return to the team.
Martinez has been a hot hitter for the Cardinals. He was also the only one who seemed to find any connection offensively against the Giants in the last series. Snow has been good himself, knocking in the game winning run in the last game against the Padres. Galarraga has gone into somewhat of a small slump recently. He may need more rest than he thinks, and that calf muscle doesn't seem to be looking any better.
Bo Hart (.390)
Ray Durham (.307)
Neifi Perez (.285)
Durham and Perez form a good combined force of defense. Perez continues to excel defensively at second base and shortstop.
Hart was pretty impressive when he was first called up from the minors for the Cardinals, but the Giants gave him a reality slap. Welcome to the big leagues, buddy, as Schmidt blew fastball after fastball by him, and all he could do was swing and miss. Durham is in a little slump of his own, but is still able to get on base anyway he can. Perez has been great off the bench, giving the Giants the all important clutch hit that they need.
Edgar Renteria (.328)
Wilson Delgado (.183)
Rich Aurilia (.261)
Renteria made an error that lost a game against the Cubs. Aurilia has been solid at shortstop, but made a minor mistake in the last game against the Padres that gave the Padres a bases loaded.
Renteria continues to be one of the top hitters in the NL, but Aurilia is also showing signs of heating up with a few hits and RBIs in the last series against San Diego. He also got his first jack in his last sixty-one at-bats. Also with Santiago injured, he will have the job of batting behind Bonds, where he will get a healthy feed of fastballs and where pitchers will walk Bonds to get to him. Delgado has been struggling offensively.
Scott Rolen (.285)
Edgardo Alfonzo (.228)
Pedro Feliz (.246)
Alfonzo came up with some good defensive plays at third, and Rolen is also good defensively but the defense backing Alfonzo up is better than the Cardinals.
Rolen is another big hitter for the Cardinals. Alfonzo has been slowly coming out of his long slump, but he is still yet to hit a jack in over one hundred last at-bats. Feliz is even worse against the Cardinals and he didn't perform too well against the Cardinals in the last series. Maybe the Feliz we saw against Oakland was just what it was: Feliz against Oakland.
Mike Matheny (.278)
Benito Santiago (.294)
Yorvit Torrealba (.272)
Matheny is a difficult catcher to steal off of, and Torrealba has thrown out a few as well. The Giants will be lacking in this position as long as Santiago is injured.
Matheny had a decent series against the Giants, and with Santiago injured, Torrealba will have to perform well offensively, which he has been in the last series against the Padres, getting a few hits and getting on base.
Albert Pujols (.374)
Barry Bonds (.304)
Bonds robbed Pujols of a few hits in the last series where some of his line drives were caught by Bonds. Bonds seemed to be telling Pujols that if he wants to be compared to Bonds, then he'll have to play defense first.
Too bad, Pujols, he just can't hit against the Giants. Bonds can hit anyone, anytime, anywhere. This mini-battle that Bonds has with the Pujols comparison will blow his ego up even more, making him perform higher than he does.
Jim Edmounds (.304)
Marquis Grissom (.302)
Grissom made some great defensive stops, if the sun's out of his way. Edmounds is a Gold Glover and rarely makes any mistakes.
Edmounds is another hot hitter for the Cardinals, leading the league in homeruns and being right up there in almost every hitting category. Grissom has been a consistent hitter for the Giants as well.
J.D. Drew (.305)
Orlando Palmeiro (.280)
Eduardo Perez (.294)
Jose Cruz, Jr. (.259)
I think every pitcher has the same thought in their mind every time they throw a pitch: have the batter hit the ball to Cruz because no matter what, Cruz will come up with a way to catch it.
Since Drew is still out with injury and his return is uncertain and Cruz's bat is heating up, look for Cruz to have a good series.
The Giants' bullpen continues to deliver is finally showing signs of the April/early May bullpen that the Giants knew of. Jim Brower and Chad Zerbe have been good long relievers and Joe Nathan and Scott Eyre are also brilliant. Felix Rodriguez has become the ideal set-up man for the Giants.
Tim Worrell continues his excellence as closer for the Giants, collecting his twentieth save in his past appearance against the Padres. Jason Isinghausen has also done well since becoming the Cardinals' closer, with an ERA of only .093, but the experience still goes to Worrell and the Giants.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org
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