Friday, April 13, 2012

The Road Home (And the Missing B's)

Today is the home opener for the Giants. They arrive in San Francisco after a tough series in Arizona, and a topsy-turvy series against Colorado. They've scored more than four runs in every game they've played so far, for a total of 33. That's an average of 5.5 runs per game. That's a tick or two above the St. Louis Cardinals, who've scored 37 in seven games. By 2011 standards, that's a Giants team that's 6-0. But they're not. They're 2-4, because their ERA is 5.58. Before Madison Bumgarner got on track for the season, that ERA was 6.37--and Barry Zito isn't responsible (yet) for any of it.

Topsy-turvy. Parallel universe. Something like that.

Before we go overboard on the significance of this year's run production thus far, we should note that the two teams that the Giants will host--the Pirates and the Phillies--are currently at the bottom of the National League in terms of runs scored, but look at those pitching numbers: the Pirates have scored 11, but they've only allowed 15 (13 earned), and the Phillies have scored18 while allowing 15 (12 earned).

There's only been six games, so none of this proves anything. But I'm sure a lot of fans still have lingering memories of the collapse of 2011, when the sinking Pirates came to town in August and took two out of three, ending a 10 game losing streak. I know I do. 

The odds are the Giants take this series 2-1. But in the best case scenario--it's the opening series at home, so I'm allowed to do this--Matt Cain and Barry Zito take the first two and Ryan Vogelsong rides into San Francisco and shuts down the Pirates for a sweep. Vogelsong, incidentally, did something similar last year, winning his first start against Pittsburgh. 

The formula to do so: keep a clamp on the Pirates' meager offense, and keep scoring runs. So far I'm impressed by the 2-3 punch of Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval, who've been protected well by either Posey (batting fourth) or Hector Sanchez (batting fifth). I've also noticed what a difference it makes to have Brandon Crawford picking them up in the seventh slot. The weaknesses, in a way, speak for themselves. Here's the lineup for tonight's game, and there are some B's missing. And I'm not talking about Ryan B'Theriot or Brett B'Pill:

Pagan CF
Cabrera LF
Sandoval 3B
Posey C
Huff 1B
Schierholtz RF
Crawford SS
Burriss 2B
Cain SP

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