Series Preview: San Francisco

Update:I managed to leave out the 2 July game pitting Zito vs Wellemeyer. Or, perhaps I didn’t want to acknowledge that game based on who was pitching and their relative success this year. Either way. I’ve added that preview to the bottom of this post.

Programming note: the ‘Birds Eye View’ previews upcoming Cardinal opponents at Cards Clubhouse. I along with 3 others signed up to do these, however, 3 months into the season I’m the only guy consistently posting them. SO, I’ve taken it over for the rest of the year. We’ll see if anyone notices.

The previews will also be posted here, because it’s an easy way to make sure I post twice weekly. 🙂

Having completed the interleague portion of the schedule, the Cardinals welcome San Francisco in for a three-game set. The Giants won 2 of 3 in San Francisco the last weekend in May.

Ah, the Giants. Memories of Jeff Leonard’s ‘one flap down’ and Cardinal back-to-back shutouts to win the 1987 NLCS flood in. We won’t remember the 2002 version, which is easier for me since I was out of the country during that series and didn’t see a single game.

The Giants boast the second best team ERA in the NL. Not exactly the best news for an offense that’s struggling. The good news is that our two best pitchers go in this series, and the Giants are last in the NL in OPS. So, you know, we got that going for us. Mostly well-known tidbits: The Giants have one more NL Pennants (20) than any other NL team, but only 3 since moving to San Francisco. They were more successful than the Dodgers in New York, but far less successful since moving. Maybe NY will take them back if they ask nicely.

Current Snapshot

St Louis: 41-35, .001 out of first place in NL Central (behind Milwaukee). 5-5 in their last 10. A team that’s difficult to figure out. After taking 2 of 3 from a good Tigers team, and sweeping a mediocre Royals team, they lost 3 of 4 to the Mets AAA affiliate and dropped 2 of 3 to the Twins.

San Francisco: 40-34, 7 games back of LA in the NL West. 6-4 last 10. Lost 2 of 3 in Milwaukee this weekend. San Francisco currently leads in the NL Wild Card, a half game ahead of Milwaukee, St Louis, and the streaking Colorado Rockies. They are a team absolutely living off its pitching and playing at home. Only the Dodgers are better at home in the NL. Good thing this series is in St Louis.

Pitching Matchups San Francisco throws its best 3 pitchers at the Cardinals. St Louis responds with their two best, and, uh, Brad Thompson.

29 June: Tim Lincecum vs Thompson. On paper this pitching matchup is as lopsided as Globetrotters vs Generals or Fat Bastard against the lunch menu. Lincecum is the reigning NL Cy Young winner. After a slow start this season he’s 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA. He’s 3-0 against the Cardinals in his career and 2-0 in St Louis. He last faced the Redbirds on 19 Apr 08, tossing 7 shutout innings and besting Joel Piniero 3-0.

Other than that he sucks.

Thompson thanked me for my high praise in the Mets preview by laying an egg, getting knocked out in the sixth and ultimately losing 11-0. He’s 2-2 with a 4.61 ERA as a starter. He’s only started one game against the Giants, at San Fran on 24 May 06; he lasted 2 innings of a game the Cardinals eventually won 10-4. He was pinch-hit for by Jason Marquis to start the top of the third, so it wasn’t an injury that forced him out (at least to my recollection).

30 June: Randy Johnson vs Carpenter. Once again Carp squares off against a former Cy Young Winner. Five-time winner and most recent member of the 300-win club Randy Johnson opposes him this time. Johnson has 15 starts and 4 complete games against the Cardinals, although he’s only 6-7 with a 4.12 ERA lifetime. His last start against St Louis was 23 Sept 08, and he gave up 5 ER in 6 innings on the way to a 7-4 loss. It’s his only start at the new stadium.

Carp is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA against San Francisco. He won his last start against the Giants, which happened to be the only Cardinal in that May series, 6-2.

This should be a good game.

1 July: Matt Cain vs Wainwright. Matt Cain is finally having the year people though he would have all along. He’s posted a 9-2 record with a stellar 2.57 ERA. Having said that, the Cardinals have had pretty good luck against him; he’s only 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in 3 starts. The lone win came this season, 29 May, when he beat Piniero 4-2 (threw 6 1/3, 1 ER).

Weird coincidence: He has the same ERA as Lincecum this year, and he also beat upon Piniero in his last start vs St Louis. Joel must hate the Giants.

Adam’s 1-2 against San Francisco, but 0-2 as a starter. He’s gone 7 and given up 4 ER in both starts. He’s lost to the immortals Kevin Correia and Merkin Valdez. I’m certain Valdez’s parents didn’t read Webster’s English Dictionary before they named him.

All that said, this also should be a good game.

2 July: Barry Zito vs Wellemeyer. In tonight’s MOTO (master of the obvious) statement, this is not the same pitcher that won the Cy Young in 2002. He’s won 3 of his 4 games on the road, but he’s a much better pitcher in his spacious home park (better ERA, better K/BB ration, better OPS, etc). Barry brings his gaudy 5.20 road ERA into this game. He’s the anti-Lincecum, in that he’s faced the Cardinals 4 times and never beaten them (0-3, 4.57). His last start against St Louis was against Carpenter on 30 May, a 6-2 Cardinal victory.

This would bode well if he was facing someone other than the guy currently impersonating Todd Wellemeyer. Todd’s 2-0 in three starts against the Gigantes, but he hasn’t faced them in over a year – 11 Apr 08 in St Louis. He went 7 in that game allowing only 1 run; the Cardinals held on to win 11-7. Todd’s suffering through an awful June; he only retired 7 batters his last time out.

Prognosis: It would take a small miracle for this Cardinal offense to beat Lincecum. The next two games are really toss-ups. Carpenter has been virtually unhittable this season in St Louis, and Wainwright has been consistently good this year. Zito is porous on the road, but Wellemeyer allows almost 2 baserunners an inning. Cards will win 1, and could win 3 of these 4 games; will they? Let’s hope so.

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