SFO: Tim Lincecum (12-3) 2.19 ERA. CIN: Homer Bailey (2-4) 7.48 ERA.
I'm pretty pumped about this series after the Giants thoroughly smashed former Giants-eliminator (e.g. 1997), then Giants-stud (e.g. 1999-2000), then Giants-ailer (e.g. 2001-2002) and finally Giants-property (2003-present) Livan Hernandez last night in New York. If the Giants hadn't split that series, and lost to Hernandez, man...I would have no hope for this road trip, even with Lincecum and Cain both pitching in this warm-up series before we head to Denver to take on Colorado.
However, we won, and not only won, but killed the Mets. All those Mets pundits who were talking ill about the Giants' Triple-A-caliber lineup seriously ate their words hard last night (even though I don't know how Mets fans could talk badly considering their lineup seriously is a Triple-A lineup itself). Rowand and Winn both had breakout games, and Velez and Sanchez shook off shaky performances in the first three games and really had solid at-bats, as evidenced by their multi-hit games in the final game in New York.
Now, the Giants are riding some momentum and have extra motivation going into Cincy as they look to avenge the embarrassment they received at the hands of the Reds last week. I mean, they dropped two out of three to the freaking Reds, who would be in last place had the Pirates not went on fire sale in June and July. Wladimir Balentein, who sucked the last two years with Seattle, suddenly looked like Raul Mondesi of old against the Giants at AT&T. And to put salt in the wound, Aaron Harang looked like an All-Star when he faced Cain, who didn't look so much like an All-Star against the Reds' meager lineup.
So, it goes without saying, the Giants should be focused in this one. I think they looked ahead of the Reds back in San Francisco simply because they had a series with the Dodgers looming. They won't make the same mistake again, even with another crucial series coming up against Colorado.
Thankfully, the Giants have the right guy to start this series on the right foot in Tim Lincecum. Granted, Lincecum killed against the Reds as well until the bullpen completely unraveled, but with the bullpen coming off a sold outing against the Mets last game, I think Giants fans shouldn't be worried. Add that in with a small ballpark that could play to the Giants' advantage (the Houston series showed that), and I really believe the Giants should at the very least take two out of three in this series, which would be fine with me.
Then again, you never know. Homer Bailey, whose line is awful this season, pitched pretty darn good against the Giants last time. Hopefully, the Giants learned a thing about the Reds' pitching and won't let the Reds meager staff look like All-Stars again (though with this Giants team, you can't say for sure).
For game updates check out the SJ Mercury's Andrew Baggarly's Giants blog at Extra Baggs. For live game thread and chat, check out the McCovey Chronicles.