SFO: Matt Cain (11-2) 2.32 ERA, COL: Jason Hamel (5-4) 4.26 ERA.
This is a huge series. I know, that's been said on the blogosphere about a million, jillion, katrillion times, but I can't say it enough. If the Giants want to consider themselves a legitimate contender in this NL Wild Card race, they need to win this series. No exceptions. I don't care that it's still July and there are still two months of baseball left to play. After dropping five out of seven out of the All-Star break gate, the Giants need some confidence as well as some momentum to regain the mojo they had in June. They can get both if they can take the series today against the Rockies.
Now, the Rockies aren't going to bow easily. The Giants caught a break with Jason Marquis missing his start today due to injury, so the Giants at the very least should take tonight's game (especially with Cain on the hill). However, the Rockies have been playing hot since they fired Clint Hurdle (who should've been done about two or three years ago to be perfectly frank. He is an overrated, terrible manager that basically got saved by that hot streak in 2007), and replaced him with former Dodger manager Jim Tracy. Add that with a Clint Barmes who hasn't played this well since 2005, and a recently inspired Troy Tulowitzki who's playing out of his butt since Hurdle was given the pink slip, and this Rockies team suddenly looks closer to the 2007 team than any other Rockies squad in the past decade sans 2007.
The Giants basically were given a win over the Braves yesterday despite their best efforts to lose. Nonetheless, a win is a win and let's hope that the team is able to build on that. Here are three things I don't want to see tonight.
1.) John Bowker starting.
2.) Matt Downs (I keep wanting to call him Micah. Guess that's the Zag in me talking) starting.
3.) Point one and two combined.
I'm sorry, I am not a fan of Bowker. You can beat him easily as a pitcher by throwing inside heat because of the gaping hole in his swing, or you can just throw curves in the dirt and he will chase all day (unfortunately, the latter is a problem for 75 percent of our team). I understand that we can't move him down to Fresno because he is mashing at Fresno and he has nothing to prove in the minors. That being said, I just don't think he's that good of a player. He had one hot streak in a callup last season and then tailed off and hasn't been the same at the big league level since he came back to earth. I don't mind him getting at-bats, but I just don't want to see him the lineup everyday, whether it is in the outfield or at first base.
As for Downs. He sucks. I'm not going into it anymore. I hate Brian Sabean for calling him up a second time even though he was clearly lousy in his first go-around, and I hate that Kevin Frandsen continues to get shafted by the organization and seems to get bounce between Fresno and San Francisco every two weeks. I hope for Frandsen's sake they just trade him. This is worse than what Ben Affleck had to go through in Chasing Amy.
Other than those two things, I'm not expecting much nor griping too much either. I know this is our best shot to win a game in this series, as pessimistic as that sounds. I'm feeling better about Jonathan Sanchez after his last start, but at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets shelled, gets no run support or a combination of both in game two of this series. I don't want that to happen of course, but I just get that fleeting feeling he's going to unravel in a park like Coors Field.
Forget about Ryan Sadowski. The guy is starting to show what he was in the minors, which was nothing special. Thanks kid. You had some great starts, but unfortunately, you're not as good as we all thought. Life moves on. Unfortunately, the opportunity to sweep the Rockies also moves on as well as long as Sadowski is pitching in the rotation (please come back soon Randy!).
No lineup posted yet, but pay attention to Extra Baggs, the San Jose Mercury's San Francisco Giants blog (updated by beat writer Andrew Baggarly). Usually, he posts it a couple of hours prior to the game, so if you need to know you can check it as it gets closer to game time.
And, if you want to communicate with others while watching the game, you can head over to McCovey Chronicles to participate in their open game threads. Fun stuff, a lot more fun when we're winning, and pretty funny when we're losing as well. Either way, it's a win-win if you're watching the game alone.
Alright, that is the Potent Preview for today. Giants need to win this game to have a chance. If they lose, or worse, get killed, than this could be a long series that might spark a long last couple months of what seemed like a "promising and surprising season." Come on Cain. Don't let that rain cloud happen.