SFO: Barry Zito (8-11) 4.44 ERA, CIN: Bronson Arroyo (11-11) 4.74 ERA
The Giants are coming off a pretty darn good win last night. Everything was in the books for the Giants to get killed: Lincecum's control was off, the Reds were up 4-0 in the second inning, Homer freaking Bailey was absolutely dealing for five innings, Sandoval had struck out three times in his first four at-bats. Believe me, I was almost giving up on this one by the fourth inning. That's how bleak last night's game was.
But...we...frickin...WON! What a game. Garko breaks out, and for the second straight game, the bullpen absolutely deals. I don't know about you, but after the crappy bullpen performance in the last homestand, I was very skeptical about how this bullpen would perform. However, they stepped it up and proved that they are indeed the tough relief staff they have been all year. I was actually open to getting John Smoltz as a reliever to shore up our late-innings relief. Yet after the last two games, I'm encouraged the bullpen has started to get it back together to where they were in June.
As for today, Barry Zito is going on the hill and got the better of Bronson Arroyo the last time around. Zito has really been killing on the mound. Even in the loss against the Mets, he pitched pretty well. It's just that the offense forgot they had a game after their walk-off win against the Dodgers. That being said, I'm a little worried that Zito is due for a bad start, much like Lincecum was last night. This really isn't a great ballpark for Zito. Small park, ball carries and if he can't locate his curve down, this game has the possibility of getting very ugly for the Giants. The offense though is starting to turn it around, so I guess you feel encouraged that Zito will get some run support, unlike his last start.
Big guy to watch this game is Ryan Garko, who is coming off a great 4-RBI game. It'll be interesting to see if he can build on this clutch performance, especially with Sandoval, who is on a bit of a slide after last night's three-K performance at the dish. If Garko tears it up again, I will feel very encouraged that my article was nothing but a fan's account of a classic overreaction.
Then again, it's only one game. And still... Garko has no home runs. Let's hope he can change that tonight against Arroyo, who is prone to give up the big fly.
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.