The Giants-Rockies Series: Pablo and the Coming Apocalypse

At a time when end of the world predictions are as plentiful as No Doze at a Charlie Sheen concert, jittery fans of the San Francisco Giants endured a series of shocking developments during the recent three game set with the Colorado Rockies.

pablosandovalphotoFirst, the Giants only took two out of three games, which sabermetricians quickly pointed out proves that San Francisco will not go 155-7 this year. Point taken, but it still stings. Luckily, there are 144 regular season games to go; to make my 2011 season prediction of 97 wins, los Gigantes will need to go 87-57 the rest of the way.  I know, I know, that’s asking a lot.  

On top of that development, the Giants were repeatedly bitten on the butt by the injury fairy. With Andres Torres (strained left Achilles tendon), Barry Zito (sprained right foot), Cody Ross (calf injury), and Santiago Casilla (inflamed right elbow) already on the DL, the Rockies did their best to expand the Giants’ wing of the local emergency room.

In Tuesday’s 6-3 Giants’ victory, Aaron Rowand caught a 94 MPH fastball on his left forearm, but managed to play the next day; Pablo Sandoval strained his right triceps during batting practice prior to Wednesday’s 10-2 loss (but I’m still blaming the Rockies); and an inning after Buster Posey’s left wrist got whacked by a swinging bat during that game, he took a fastball foul tip off his mask square in the forehead. Luckily, Posey was OK; he currently leads all MLB catchers with 65 at bats and 14 RBI.  

On the good side, right fielder Cody Ross came off the DL prior to game 3, assuming his permanent job as the Giants’ starting right fielder. Ross went 0-4, but even with Torres out for another week or so, the Giants outfield is now stablized for the first time this year.
 
In a development that I believe the Mayans noted as a possible indication of the end of time, San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval actually walked three times during a 9 inning game: the Giants’ 8-1 win over the Rockies on Monday. The other possibility here is that Sandoval really is maturing as a hitter. In fact, let’s go with that.

Coming up, three sold out home games at AT&T Park this weekend against the Atlanta Braves and their excellent pitching staff:
Friday – Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 7.36) vs. Tommy Hanson (1-3, 3.86)
Saturday – Tim Lincecum (2-1, 1.67) vs. Tim Hudson (2-2, 4.05)
Sunday – Jonathan Sanchez (2-1, 3.13) vs. Brandon Beachy (1-1, 3.86)

Atlanta’s offense is mired in a team-wide slump; the Braves are 24th out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored with 66. Cincinnati leads the Majors with 107 runs, St. Louis is 2nd with 104, and Colorado is 3rd with 99 runs; the Giants are in the middle of the MLB pack at 15th with 78 runs.

While the three game series with the Rockies was seen as a test of the two dominant teams in the NL West, Atlanta brings credentials as one of the best teams in baseball. In 2010, Atlanta’s pitching staff finished with the 3rd best team ERA in the Majors (behind San Diego and San Francisco). So far in 2011, Atlanta’s pitching is 6th overall in team ERA at 3.22; Oakland leads the Majors at 2.58, the Giants are 12th with a 3.66 team ERA.

Bottom line on the bottom line… these series never seem to get any easier (unless it’s the Arizona Dbacks).   

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