The Giants have been taking part in what feels like playoff baseball for oh ... a few weeks now. Other teams clinched early and coasted along, but the Giants have been playing hard with the "lose and go home," mentality throughout. When I think about the upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves, I don't feel all that different from the last two series the Giants played (hosting Arizona and San Diego). This team has been must-win for a bit now.
I'm sure the feeling will change as the game approaches, the fact that these games are real, tangible playoff games, the first for the Giants in awhile, mean something and will definitely alter perceptions going into the game.
All eyes will be on the starting pitching, as usual. The Giants have a great lineup, if marred by a bit of inconsistencies, as has been the case all season for the come-from-behind NL West champions. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are all pitching very well at the moment. Lincecum has had an up-and-down year, and is still one of the better pitchers in the league, he's just held to higher standards. Cain has been the best and most consistent of the Giants pitchers, and he came away in his last game with a loss, which is probably a bad sign. Bumgarner is the victim of an awful lot of circumstance, pitching well in most of his recent outings, but notching up losses without any run support. He did get a win in his last outing, though.
The flip-side to those pitchers would be Barry Zito and, to a lesser extent, Jonathan Sanchez. It's almost ridiculous to include Sanchez in this second section, but his inconsistencies with walking and propensity for placing himself in bad situations are things that could spell disaster against playoff-caliber offenses. Sanchez generally finds his way out of these binds, and has gained a lot of traction with the team and its fanbase, but will definitely need to solidify his game going into the playoffs. Zito, on the other hand, is a whole different issue. He doesn't have his location, velocity is down, and he is just in a weird way right now. His curve is non-existent.
We'll have more on the pitching and hitting staff in this very stream, so stick around for that, plus full lineups, previews, and recaps from each game.
Game 1: ATL @ SFG, Thursday, Oct. 7 (TBS) -- 9:37pm
Game 2: ATL @ SFG, Friday, Oct. 8 (TBS) -- 9:37pm
Game 3: SFG @ ATL, Sunday, Oct. 10 (TBS) -- TBA
Game 4: SFG @ ATL, Monday, Oct. 11 (TBS) -- TBA
Game 5: ATL @ SFG, Wednesday, Oct. 13 (TBS) -- TBA