The biggest series to date this season has arrived, and after a strong weekend over in Oakland, the Giants look up to the task at making a run at the first place Dodgers.
|Sandoval Rounding into Form|
The Dodgers came into AT&T Park limping and struggling, and the Giants jumped all over them Monday night, like a wounded animal. They pounced early with their bats and got a helluva performance out of Barry Zito in one of his most important starts as a Giant. The Dodgers looked completely flat, and the Giants took advantage. They scored 7 runs in the first two inning, basically wrapping the game up while fans were still trickling into their seats. Gregor Blanco, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Hector Sanchez all had multi-hit games. Sandoval was the standout though, going 3-3 with 3 RBI and 2 doubles. It was his most impressive day with the bat since he returned from the DL earlier this month, and helped make up for the fact that Bruce Bochy still insists on the Sanchez/Zito combo and sat Buster Posey. I get having to give Buster a day off here and there, but against the Dodgers who your chasing for first place, I don't get how you can sit your team-leading home run hitter? Buster will be back in the lineup for Tuesday and Wednesday's games, in which the Giants have a chance move into a tie with LA atop the NL West.
|Gm. 2: Vogey vs. Kershaw|
These next two games are going to be huge now that Zito got game one out of the way. Both of these next two games also pose some terrific pitching matchups, starting with Ryan Vogelsong and Clayton Kershaw facing off Tuesday night. Kershaw is the Dodgers ace, but he isn't throwing like he was last season and if the Giants show up with the same jump in their step offensively, I think they'll be able to scrape together some runs off the star lefty. Vogelsong has been nothing short of rock solid over his last 10 starts, and is carrying a home ERA of 1.47 into Tuesday's start. However, even with Tuesday night's impressive pitching matchup, most people are focusing on Wednesday's pairing of Tim Lincecum and Chad Billingsley as the game of this series. After Lincecum's last outing, it's gotten some people optimistic again about the right-hander, who will try and put together a solid, full game this time around, and avoid that one bad inning that's seems to haunt him in every start he takes lately. The best part of Monday's game, aside from the Giants moving to within 2 games of LA, was that they got out to an early lead, and you saw how that lead enhanced the way Barry Zito pitched. He was pitching without fear, and that's what Timmy has to embrace on Wednesday. 7 runs in the first couple innings won't hurt either.