San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies: Series Preview and Predictions

Manny Randhawa@@MannyBal9Correspondent IIIMay 6, 2011

San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies: Series Preview and Predictions

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    The last time the Giants and Rockies met, Colorado was off to a 12-3 start to the new season, as the defending world champion Giants came to Denver for an early-season showdown of the top two teams in the NL West.

    The Giants promptly took the first two games of the series, outscoring Colorado 14-4 over those two contests.

    The Giants hit six home runs in those two games, putting on a powerful offensive display while starters Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez shut down what had been up to that point a red-hot Rockies lineup.

    The Rockies salvaged a game in the series by taking game three, roughing up Matt Cain and blowing out San Francisco 10-2.

    What can we expect as the Rockies make their first visit of the season to AT&T Park?

    An exciting weekend, to be sure...

Look for Good Pitching from Both Clubs

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    Colorado's pitching has been quite a story through the first month of the season.

    While ace Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't been anything close to what he was last season (currently 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA), the rest of the staff has done well for Colorado. 

    Jhoulys Chacin, the young right-hander who pitched his first full season for the Rockies last year, is 4-2 with a 2.85 ERA so far in 2011.  He has struck out 32 while walking 13.

    Jorge De La Rosa, the veteran lefty, had a spectacular April, and is currently 4-0 with a 2.92 ERA.  He's struck out 37 while walking just 12.  So far he's only had two starts in which he didn't pitch at least six innings, and opposing hitters are batting just .197 against him.

    With Jimenez, Chacin and De La Rosa slated for this weekend, the Giants will have their hands full.

    But let's not forget the staff on the other side.

    Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong will take the hill for San Francisco.

    Cain is coming off a solid outing against Washington on Sunday, giving up just two runs on seven hits over six innings and getting a no-decision.

    Young left-hander Madison Bumgarner will get the ball on Saturday.  Bumgarner struggled out of the gate this year, but had a good start on Monday against the Nationals, in which he went seven innings, yielding no earned runs on just four hits, striking out seven and walking just one.  Madison looks to build on that solid performance with an encore against the Rockies.

    Ryan Vogelsong had a fantastic return to a starting role when he defeated his old team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in his first start in seven years on April 28, going 5.2 innings while allowing two runs on four hits and tying a career-high with eight strikeouts.  He had a rough outing against the Mets on May 3 but is looking to rebound against the Rockies Sunday.

The Rockies Can Rake, Right? Well...

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    The Rockies have jumped out to a fast start in 2011, and a common misconception is that the main reason for their early success is their hitting.

    The Rockies are currently hitting just .237 as a team (that's right, just one point higher than the Giants), and their best offensive threat, reigning National League batting champion Carlos Gonzalez, is hitting just .245 with two home runs and 15 RBI so far in 2011.

    Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is hitting just .261, and is one for his last 25.

    Leadoff man Dexter Fowler has struck out 37 times already in 29 games.

    Third baseman Ian Stewart is hitting an anemic .088.

    The Rockies have played in some very hitter-friendly parks against some very mediocre teams thus far, including the Pirates, Cubs and Diamondbacks

    Despite jumping out to a 12-3 start to the season, since the Giants visited Coors Field, the Rockies are just 6-8.

    And while Rockies hitters are used to the launching pad they call Coors Field, it'll be much tougher to hit well at AT&T Park, known for being a much more pitcher-friendly venue.

The Giants, Glad to Be Home, Should Continue Awakening from Offensive Slumber

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    The Giants have had an April to forget.  They played 21 of 27 games on the road and had a terrible month offensively. 

    So far this season they are hitting just .236 and have scored only 110 runs, placing them 27th in the majors.  Somehow, they enter the Rockies series just one game below .500.

    Many of San Francisco's best hitters, including Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey, have been struggling at the plate.  Huff is hitting just .204 and Posey just .248.

    Several key offensive components for the Giants have succumbed to injury, leaving gaping holes in the lineup.  These include Pablo Sandoval, so far the club's best hitter, batting .313 with five home runs and 14 RBI.  Sandoval broke a bone in his right hand and after undergoing surgery will be out at least four to six weeks.

    But in the last series of their 10-game road trip, Giants hitters began to show life.  San Francisco scored seven runs to defeat the Mets in New York on Tuesday, the last coming off the bat of the struggling Huff, who hit a long game-winning homer to lead the Giants to victory.

    Another bright spot in the Giants order is Mike Fontenot, who, though small in stature and considered a light hitter, went 3-for-9 with a home run and four RBI while hitting in the third slot during the Mets series.

    Though they're up against very solid pitching from the Rockies, look for Giants hitters to deliver in the clutch when it counts this weekend.

Don't Expect Andres Torres to Be in the Lineup Just Yet

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    After suffering an Achilles strain in center field on April 9 against the Cardinals, Andres Torres appears to be healing well and should be ready to be re-inserted into the Giants lineup soon. 

    While early reports suggested he may be back for the series opener against the Rockies on Friday, Torres will likely not be back while the Rockies are in town.

Giants Take Two out of Three

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    With Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner lined up to start the series against the Rockies, the Giants have the edge on the mound.  While Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin are quality pitchers, Jimenez has struggled mightily this season and just doesn't have the same stuff he had in the first half of 2010.

    Madison Bumgarner will only go so long without a win, and the way he threw against the Nationals on May 2, not yielding a hit until the sixth inning, he will likely get that first win against Colorado on Saturday.

    The Giants as a team are going to be very glad to be back home at AT&T Park, and it will very likely show in their performance on the field this weekend.  Look for San Francisco to take two of three from the Rockies.