The Los Angeles Dodgers are in town, the first place Dodgers, the best team money can’t buy. And that means just one thing: prepare yourself for three torture-filled games of entertainment at AT & T Park, starting tonight.
The last time these two teams met in San Francisco, April 21-23, the Giants swept the Dodgers, shocking the world. Los Angeles came into that series as the hottest team in baseball, while the Giants were mired in last place, six games behind the Dodgers with a 4-10 record. This time, the roles are reversed – although the Dodgers are still in first place, the G-men are the hotter team. The Giants have won three straight, scoring 30 runs in their last three games, and Hunter Pence is back. San Francisco has also won 16 of their last 24 games, a .667 winning percentage.
Tonight’s game will feature Tim Hudson (1-3, 4.57) against Carlos Frias (3-0, 2.89). Frias will be making his fourth start of the year since coming out of the bullpen to replace the injured Brandon McCarthy in the rotation. Frias has faced the G-men just twice in his career, both times in relief. He has a line of 1-0, 4.15 against them and the Giants are hitting .263 against him (5 for 19). Huddy is 6-6 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 4.03 ERA.
The G-men have several hot hitters in the lineup right now, including Nori Aoki, Joe Panik, Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Matt Duffy, and Brandon Crawford. But Belt and Crawford have been on fire.
Over the last seven days, Crawford is hitting .417 with 9 RBIs. This includes 10 hits in 24 bats, with a grand slam and four doubles. Crawford leads the team in RBIs with 25 and is tied for the team lead in home runs with Buster Posey with six. He’s now hitting .285 on the season and is making a strong case for his first All Star selection.
Brandon Belt is batting .370 over the last seven days, including three homers and seven RBIs. Belt became just the second San Francisco Giants player in the modern era to collect at least three hits, including a home run, in three straight games. Barry Bonds was the only other Giants player to accomplish that, with a three-game streak of that kind in May 2000 against the Expos.
Belt has been described as a “streaky” hitter. He had not homered in his first 30 games of this season. The last player to hit a home run in three consecutive games following a streak of 30 homerless games or more to open a season was…Brandon Belt. He homered in three consecutive games in June 2012 after not hitting one in his first 48 games that year. Belt is hitting .321 on the season, good for 10th best in the National League.
It will be interesting to see which lineup manager Bruce Bochy posts for tonight’s game. With Frias, a right hander throwing, expect to see: Aoki (LF), Panik (2B), Pagan (CF, assuming his back spasms have subsided), Posey (C), Belt (1B), Pence (RF), and Crawford (SS). The big question will be who gets the start at third base. Duffy has been hot lately and is hitting .304 with 16 RBIs in just 79 at bats this season. Casey McGehee has started more games at third, but is hitting just .202 with 9 RBIs in 99 at bats, and also leads the league in grounding into double plays. My bet is that Duffy gets the start tonight at third and remains in the starting lineup until he cools off at the plate.
With a record of 20-18, the G-men are 1 ½ games ahead of the third place Padres, and 4 ½ back of the Dodgers. Another sweep will close the gap to just 1 ½ games. After tonight’s matchup, Tim Lincecum will get the start tomorrow night against Brett Anderson. And on Thursday night, we’ll get another treat as the team’s aces will battle each other for the third time in this young season. Madison Bumgarner has the upper hand over Clayton Kershaw in those two starts, with the Giants winning both games by one run. Buckle up Giants fans, let the torture begin.