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Series #31: Athletics at Giants - Battle of the Bay, SF Edition

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Giants’ Current Record:

49-46, tied for third place in the NL West. The Giants have a 30-17 record when playing at home, one of the better records in all of baseball.

Projected Lineup:

Gorkys Hernandez - CF

Buster Posey - C

Andrew McCutchen - RF

Brandon Belt - 1B

Brandon Crawford - SS

Pablo Sandoval - 3B

Alen Hanson - 2B

Hunter Pence - LF

Pitcher’s Spot

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Madison Bumgarner - LHP

Jeff Samardzija - RHP

Andrew Suarez - LHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

In their last game played, the Giants used six relief pitchers, all of whom threw a few as eleven and as many as forty two pitches in their outing. Fortunately for San Francisco, the team had an off day yesterday to give their taxed bullpen some rest.

Hottest Hitter(s):

The Giants’ lineup ranks in the lower third of baseball overall, ranking 21st in team OPS and 22nd in total runs scored. The Brandon’s Belt and Crawford, inferior to the A’s conglomerate of Brandon’s Moss, Inge, Hicks, and McCarthy of the 2012 A’s, have been carrying the offense for most of the season, each of them with at least thirty extra base hits on the season, with OPS’s in the .800s. The surprising success on offense has been hitting like Jed Lowrie but with a lower average and more speed, in the name of Alen Hanson.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Hunter Pence has long been one of the most fun baseball players to watch, but his performance hasn’t been up to snuff this year, batting just .216/.264/.267 on his injury-shortened season. Madison Bumgarner, the “proof” that pitcher hitting should be around to stay, is batting .063/.111/.063 in his injury shortened season.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

The Giants team ERA sits at 4.02, which is in the middle of the pack throughout all of baseball, and interesting just a tad behind the A’s team ERA of 4.01. Many of the Giants’ top starters have been batting injury, however, this season, and are slowly and surely making their way back onto the roster, so the staff is bound to improve as the season progresses through its second half. In the team’s effort to cobble together a rotation in the midst of all their injuries, Derek Holland and Andrew Suarez have been the two most successful arms to step up in their place, though the former is now regulated to a bullpen spot with the occasional spot start. Also in the bullpen, Will Smith has an ERA below one in nearly thirty appearances.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Old friend Jeff Samardzija hasn’t fared well much during his San Francisco tenure, and this season his ERA is sitting in the mid sixes. The front end of the Giants’ bullpen has also struggled with consistency this year.

Key Injuries:

Johnny Cueto is still on the DL, though he is due to get off soon, but Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, and Hunter Strickland have each spent/are spending time on the DL as well. On offense, Joe Panik will be out until next month, as will Evan Longoria, out with a groin and hand injury, respectively.

* * *

Before the A’s loudly and proudly forced their way into the playoff conversation, this series, and the one in Oakland following the All Star Break, this was to be the most important series of the season. The two rivals meet up every year, and every series results in raucous sell out crowds clamoring with every pitch, but this season, the stakes are even higher, with the Bay Bridge Series culminating in a trophy and ceremony for the winners, along with bragging rights in the Bay Area for the next year.

The rules to winning the trophy are simple enough - whoever wins more head to head games wins the trophy. Should the A’s and Giants spit the six games between them, the trophy goes to the winner of the sixth game. Fortunately for Oakland, the team is playing their best ball all year right now, having one nineteen of twenty four and proving that they won’t back down from an ace pitcher like Corey Kluber, Gerrit Cole, or, say, Madison Bumgarner.

Game #95: Friday, July 13th, 7:15 - NBCSCA, NBCS BA, MLB.tv

Edwin Jackson vs Madison Bumgarner

Prior to just a couple weeks ago this matchup would have looked like an unwinnable disaster for Oakland, but Jackson has been a more-than-pleasant surprise for the A’s, putting up a 2.63 ERA with sixteen strikeouts in his three games with his thirteenth big league club. Bumgarner is Bumgarner, however, and the team will have little margin for error to succeed.

Game #96: Saturday, July 14th, 7:05 - NBCSCA, NBCS BA, MLB Network, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Jeff Samardzija

Both starters, while very different in their approach to hitters while on the mound, have had similarly frustrating seasons on the mound. Both Anderson and Samardzija have spent predictable times on the DL this year, and have ERA’s well over five. This game may become a slugfest, so the offense will have to bring its A-game.

Game #97: Sunday, July 15th, 1:05 - NBCSCA, NBCS BA, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea vs Andrew Suarez

After building himself up after a month of mediocre pitching after one of the best pitching performances of anyone this season, Manaea had another subpar start in his last effort at Houston. Pitching in a much more cavernous ballpark should aid Manaea back towards success. Going up against fellow lefty Suarez, the lineup will have to punish the few mistakes that he makes, as his command is typically excellent, making it more difficult to sustain rallies against him.