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SF/LA Preview: Which Giants Need To Step Up?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants hits an infield single scoring Emmanuel Burriss in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Phillip KernContributor IAugust 10, 2009

A big battle will commence at the crown jewel of the Bay from Aug. 10-12. Giants-Dodgers series are always fun to watch, and the thrill of the playoff race only adds to the intensity.

The Giants are currently tied for the NL Wild Card, but are only five-and-a-half games out of the lead for the NL West lead also. This will be the series where Giants' fans will find out what their team is really made of.

Isn't this what baseball is all about? The thrill of the playoff chase thickening with each passing moment as the autumn season draws ever closer with each passing day. With that said, here are the Giants that really need to step up if the team is going to make a statement and win this series from the much-hated Dodgers.

Joe Martinez (Game Two Starter): His comeback from his scary line drive incident has been a captivating storyline. He turned in a good outing against the Astros to get the win despite lasting just five innings. The Dodgers' lineup is a couple steps above what the Astros have to offer, with good hitters in the one through eight spots.  

Will Martinez's nerves get to him in what is the biggest start in his early Major League career? He needs to channel the excitement of the rivalry and take things one hitter at a time. Fans already know they will get great starts out of Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum in the first and last games of the series respectively. This could be the game that decides the series.

Ryan Garko (First Baseman): When the Giants traded for him, I suspect that they expected much more than just a stat line of .235 AVG/.366 OBP/.294 SLG and 0 HR with 3 just RBI to show for it.  

They got Garko with the hopes that he would add some pop to the lineup, and now is the best time to prove his worth. Is there a transition period between leagues? Well sure, there is always going to be a transition period for a player with a new team. Garko has had a few weeks now and the question is now if he is a legitimate power threat or not. Did he perhaps benefit from a great lineup with the likes of Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, and so forth?

Randy Winn (Outfielder): Winn is essentially playing for his job right now. He is struggling with the bat, and the team will be at a crossroads when Nate Schierholtz comes off of the disabled list.  

Schierholtz has proven that he has earned the chance to play every day, while Winn has begun to show his age. Winn needs to make the decision more difficult for Bochy by having a great series, and being the solid the hitter that Giants fans have grown to appreciate. Should he come up short again, I venture to say that his time with the Giants will end with the softest whimper possible.

These are the three players that in my opinion have to step up in order for the Giants to make a statement in this series. The Giants have a great opportunity to take this series.  The rotation is in shambles with Jason Schmidt back on the disabled list and with the struggles of Chad Billingsley since the All-Star Break, and Hiroki Kuroda (game one starter) joining the All-Japanese Bust team in the Majors, this series could there for the taking.

For the young and rapidly improving Giants, let's hope they get the memo and follow through on it.

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