Series Preview: San Francisco Giants (22-15) @ Toronto Blue Jays (15-24)
May 11, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) high fives right fielder Jose Bautista (19) after scoring a run during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Well now that’s more like it. When I envisioned how things would go in Boston I pictured some timely hitting, great starting performances and a lights out bullpen. Ramon Ortiz stumping the Red Sox with a great quality start was not on my list. Nor was Chad Jenkins holding the fort down with a great game in only his second off the disabled list (the first was in New Hampshire). It was a wild weekend at Fenway and the 12-4 drubbing seems to be the continuance of some quality ball first scene during the Rays series. Hell my example of all that was wrong with the team went 3-4 with a home run on Sunday (welcome to the game Mr. Bonifacio. Glad to see you are nicely rested after a long April nap).
Interleague play is upon us for the first time this season and we get to look across the diamond at the World Champ-een San Francisco Giants. They sit atop the NL West and ane second in the National League with a 23-15 record. Super stud pitcher Tim Lincecum has been struggling a bit with an ERA of 4.07 and a K:BB ratio of just over 2. Opponents are hitting him at a .242 clip so even though he trimmed off the locks it hasn’t seemed to bring him back to the 2-time Cy Young winner we know him to be.
They may be world beaters but with the momentum the Jays are building we could sweep this mini 2 gamer. Let’s take a closer look.
Game 1: Barry Zito (3-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) vs R.A. Dickey (2-5, 5.06 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Game 2: Ryan Vogelsong (1-3, 7.78 ERA, 1.73 WHIP) vs Brendan Morrow (1-2 4.69 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)
Looking over Zito’s peripherals it’s a wonder his ERA is so low. He doesn’t strike many out and his WHIP is a little high but he is getting the job done. Know way has he lived up to his $120M contract but he is a serviceable 4th or 5th starter. With 7 of our players hitting .290 or better in May it would seem that Zito is ripe for a beat down at Rogers Centre. Our best player has been our best player in May as Jose Bautista is scorching the ball (.333, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 BB, .453 OBP. 1.017 OPS) and seems to have fully turned things around. He is walking more than he is striking out and thus is seeing the ball very well.
If R.A. Dickey is back to full health I expect a huge game from him. It has been speculated that most of his troubles stem from not being able to throw his “hard” knuckler which was his out pitch during his Cy Young season. he has been better which is probably his shoulder and back loosening up more. If he is not completely healthy then the Giants would have a slight edge having played against Dickey in the NL. Our starters have already given up 25 homers (6 apiece for Dickey and Buehrle) but that number waned a bit during the 4-3 road trip. Expect the starters to keep improving and not regressing and thus keeping the balls in the park.
Ryan Vogelsong had a decent year last year but if you talk regression this is your prime candidate. 7 starts, 53 hits in just over 39 innings. Sounds like the type of starter the Jays need to keep their streak rolling. If Morrow’s arm is still not 100% this could be a power show from both sides. The Giants hitting has been ok to this point (2 regulars hitting over .300) and all it takes is a hurt pitcher to float a couple to the plate for smacking out. I wonder if Melky has any lingering feelings for his old team?
The following are the probable line-ups for both squads:
1. CF: Angel Pagan
2. 2B: Marco Scutaro
3. 3B: Pablo Sandoval
4. C: Buster Posey
5. RF: Hunter Pence
6. 1B: Brandon Belt
7. DH: Andres Torres
8. LF: Gregor Blanco
9. SS: Brandon Crawford
Toronto Blue Jays:
1. LF: Melky Cabrera
2. RF: Jose Bautista
3. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
4. C: J.P. Arencibia
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. 3B: Brett Lawrie
7. CF: Colby Rasmus
8. 2B: Emilio Bonifacio
9. SS: Munenori Kawasaki
The leader of the GIants staff seems to have become the youngest member, Madison Bumgarner (2.18 ERA, .198 opp BAA, 0.93 WHIP). Them there is Cy young numbers. With a resurgent Zito they are holding the fort down while usual stalwart Matt Cain continues to trip over himself this year (5.04 ERA, .225 opp BAA and a strikeout rate below 1 per inning) and Ryan Vogelsong is, well, Ryan Vogelsong. This is a team built for pitching and considering how their usual aces are not firing on all cylinders it is amazing they are still 2nd in the NL. Aside from Posey and Sandoval there isn’t much to fret about in their hitting order. Lots of veteran professionals but definitely no game changers.
The Final Word:
SO it would seem our bats are finally coming together even though our line-up seems to need changing daily. We are weathering the storm as we get through these troublesome injuries. It has been a great beginning to May and hopefully we can keep the bats hitting together, grouping those hits and keeping innings going with smart, aggressive ball. We lucked out in getting the bottom end of the Giants rotation and this should lead to a couple more wins and some HR fireworks at the ballpark. it is time to start believing again. If the Jays can play .580 ball the rest of the way it will bring us to 91 wins. Those numbers seem very attainable if we continue to take series…though this series should be a 2 game sweep for us. From then on we just need to win series after series and we will be in the thick of things come all-star break.