San Francisco Giants: Five Things They Need to Do to Win the Series in Colorado
By the time the San Francisco Giants take the field in Colorado Friday night, there will be nine regular season games left.
I'm not sure there is anything regular about them. In these remaining games, the Giants will face the Colorado Rockies who are very much in the hunt AND the division leading San Diego Padres.
Through today (9/23), the Rockies are 3.0 games out of first place, and dropping three in a row to Los Angeles and Arizona.
The Giants and Rockies clash for three games over the weekend. If you are starting to see a trend here, you nailed it.
When you consider the importance of the final three games against the Padres next weekend, do not under appreciate what is about to happen in Colorado.
A sweep by the Rockies this weekend will leave the Giants all but out of the playoffs for certain.
San Francisco must win this series if they want to keep San Diego in their cross-hairs for next weekend.
In order for that to happen, there are five things the Giants must do....
Score, and Score Some More
To say the Giants need to score more runs is an understatement. In their last six games they have two runs or less. They were shut out in three of those eight games.
Coors field is the right park to get a sick and sputtering offense well. Humidor or not, this park plays small. They will likely miss seeing Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
Regardless of who they face in Colorado's rotation, they must take a team game plan with them to the plate in this series.
If San Francisco continues to pitch as they have, they will have a chance to win every game provided they can score runs.
It is not known whether lead-off hitter and team spark-plug Andres Torres will be ready to play this weekend or not. Assuming Torres is not able to go, we will need to see better production from Cody Ross.
Although Ross has come through with a hit here and there, we will likely need him to provide better lead-off opportunities for Sanchez and Huff following him.
Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, and Buster Posey have all been guilty of the funk overshadowing the Giants offense of late.
For the Giants to compete with the down, but never out Rockiesit all starts with getting runs across the plate early and often.
Continued Dominance On The Mound
Tim Lincecum will likely start the three game set as the Giants take on the encroaching Rockies.
It is essential for Timmy to set the tone in this series. His woes during the entire month of August are hopefully behind him for good, winning three out of four decisions here in September.
Provided Lincecum can deliver a win on Friday, the table will be set for Barry Zito and Matt Cain to do well in their respective starts following.
The Giants bullpen has also done fantastic down the stretch. They have been asked to come into games and hold the opposing team down to get a win, or keep the game within reach.
Continued success by both the starters and relievers are a vital part of this team's success over the weekend.
If given any kind of run support, the Giants pitching will likely not fail.
Weather The Storm, Hold Hot Hitters at Bay
The Rockies have lost their last three games. They are in danger of being swept in Arizona tonight.
In short, the Rockies have struggled on the road in the last week and are anxious to get back into the safe and cozy confines of their humidor, err.. rather Coors Field.
They are the most dangerous team in the National League when batting at home. Humidor or not, the Giants will be throwing the top of their rotation at hungry hitters like Carlos Gonazalez, Troy Tulowitski, Todd Helton, and Ryan Spilborghs.
Prior to the road trip, Tulowitski was sizzling. For September he is batting .333 with 14 HR and 43 RBI. Playing at home, he will be hungry for more against the Giants.
Carlos Gonzalez is no Johnny-come-lately either. He is leading the NL in batting average at .341 with 32 HR and 107 RBI. And get this, at home he is a monster. He leads the league while playing at home in almost every offensive category, Hits, RBI, BA and HR.
While the Giants must limit the damage these two hitters alone are capable of causing, overall they will need to find a way to keep the Rockies off the bases.
Tighten Up The Defense
Believe it or not, statistically the Giants have a pretty tightly run defense.
As of late, the left side of the infield has not played as good as it should. Pablo Sandoval has not looked comfortable at the plate all year, and the pressure has followed him out to third base.
Sandoval has 12 errors on the season. Many of us remember some of those errors as costing runs in a big way this year. Currently Sandoval leads the club in errors.
While Juan Uribe has been playing at shortstop, his glove has been sketchy at best. Sometimes it is excusable to sacrifice some defense for offensive production.
Not the case this weekend, the Giants have not been scoring runs. Now they will need, more than ever—to stop the bleeding caused by free base runners. Uribe is second on the team with nine errors.
Uribe and Sandoval make up the left side of the diamond. The hot corner and the all important shortstop. The Giants just cannot afford to give any free passes anywhere on the field against Colorado.
Don't be surprised to see one, if not both coming off the bench as Bruce Bochy will look to tighten up his defense in another all important series.
Get Closer Brian Wilson Into The Game
If Brian Wilson makes appearances in all three games in this set against the Rockies, that will likely be a very, very good sign.
Seeing a Wilson appearance will likely mean the Giants have a lead, and will use their best arm in the pen to keep that lead.
Brian Wilson has been electric for the Giants this year (and others) in his role as closer. Sure, sometimes it is nail-biting and tense, but this guy likes excitement.
With 44 saves Wilson is primed and ready to get saves 45, 46 & 47. Will he catch Rod Beck for the club's single season save record of 48?
Maybe. Something tells me Wilson would much rather see W's in the win column, padding his stats are distant second.
The Giants have fundamental work in front of them. They can look to their own clubhouse for the needed improvement to beat the Rockies.
Performing at high levels in each of these five areas should secure the series for San Francisco.
Seeing Brian Wilson closing out the series will likely put Colorado in our rear view mirror for good in 2010.