The San Francisco Giants are coming off a so-so series against the Cincinnati Reds, but ended it on a high note with a victory in the finale to force a series split. Now, they're hitting the road to Chase Field, where they'll square off with the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game set. The winner of this set will be at the top of the NL West division, which the Giants currently lead by half a game over said Diamondbacks. Right now, it's a two-team race, with the Colorado Rockies six games back in third place, and the Dodgers and Padres are sitting at seven and eight games back, respectively.
So yes, there's a lot of meaning in this series. The Giants will need the back-end of their pitching staff to really get things done after both Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez struggled in starts against the Reds. In Lincecum's case, it really was a struggle, one of his worst outings of his career. So we'll move on to Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong.
The three of them will be depending on an improved offense with the return of Pablo Sandoval. Following the finale of the four-game set against the Reds, Sandoval was activated and Conor Gillaspie was sent down to make room. Sandoval figures to be in the lineup for game one somewhere in the 3-4-5 range on the batting order. It's a group that needs to be more consistent overall. Those spots will go to Aubrey Huff, Nate Schiertholtz and Sandoval in some form, and it's the only thing going for the Giants right now, outside of the pitching staff, of course.
All eyes will be on Sandoval, but it's worth noting that he might not be able to return to form immediately due to the nature of his injury. The hamate bone injury is one that could mean he doesn't have all the pop in his swing that he usually would. Still, there are high hopes for Sandoval's return, what with recent injuries to Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Freddy Sanchez.
The Diamondbacks are winners in their last three, taking three-of-four from the Florida Marlins. They were very good games too, scoring 26 runs in said games. Twenty-six runs over three games is probably not something the Giants can keep up with, but Arizona would be hard-pressed to get that kind of run total off of this pitching staff, as well. Arizona will be sending Josh Collmenter, Joe Saunders and Ian Kennedy to the mound to duel Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong.
3 game series vs Diamondbacks @ Chase Field
|Wed 06/15 - Madison Bumgarner vs. Joe Saunders||6:40 PM PDT|
|Thu 06/16 - Ryan Vogelsong vs. Ian Kennedy||6:40 PM PDT|