Series Preview: Phillies at Giants

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The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants (43-43) have gone stone cold, which is what they do during an odd year, after all.  The GMen have lost 8 of their last 9 games, and have only scored 9 runs in their last 6 games. This abysmal stretch has seen them sink to 5.5 games behind the NL West-leading Dodgers.

The struggling San Francisco offense is led by outfielder Nori Aoki (.317/.383/.385, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 12 SB), 2nd baseman Joe Panik (306/.370/.443, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 3 SB), and the always outstanding catcher Buster Posey (.300/.372/.493).

More from That Balls Outta Here

Luckily for them, our old friend Hunter Pence returned from the DL on Tuesday to produce 2 runs and lead them to their only win in those last 9 games. He should provide an instant boost as he has performed well with a .291/.333/.456 triple slash line in limited action this season.

The Phillies have gone as equally cold as their opponents, although for them it’s more like the usual for the 2015 version of the team. The club has only won 2 of their last 11, and they have been shut out in their last two games. Granted, they just faced Clayton Kershaw and a red-hot Zack Greinke, but it doesn’t get much easier when they are set to face the Giants ace tonight. The Phillies’ poor stretch of ball places them a very distant 19 games out of first in a fairly weak division.

The Phillies offense has been poor all season, but now they have suddenly completely collapsed. The offense is headed by Ben Revere (.293/.332/.377, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 20 SB), rookie Maikel Franco (.291/.345/.515, 10 HR, 34 RBI), and new 2nd baseman Cesar Hernandez (.288/.372/.366, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 12 SB).

This series will take place in AT&T Park which has fairly unique dimensions in comparison to what we’re used to with Citizens Bank Park. The beautiful ballpark by the bay runs 339, 399, and 309 feet to left, center and right field, respectively. AT&T’s short right field fence plays nicely for lefty power hitters Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown; should they pull the ball this weekend.

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Cole Hamels (5-6, 3.02 ERA) v. Madison Bumgarner (8-5, 3.34 ERA) – This game should be a good showdown between the teams’ aces. Turning it up just in time for the approach of the MLB trade deadline, Hamels is coming off a very strong start in Atlanta (7 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, and 6 SO), and the southpaw looks to keep the momentum moving as he squares off against the defending champs. Despite being named to the National League’s all-star squad, Bumgarner is coming off one of his worst starts of the season (5 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 4 SO). The struggling Phillies should prove a perfect antidote for whatever might have been ailing the Giants ace.

David Buchanan (0-5, 8.76 ERA) v. Ryan Vogelsong (6-6, 4.10 ERA) – Buchanan is set to make his long-awaited return to the majors on Saturday night. He was sent down to Triple-A, where he would eventually hit the DL for an ankle injury. Now that he is again healthy and the Phillies are in need of a starter, he was given the call. He’ll need to be much better than he was early in the season. He’ll be opposed by Vogelsong, who’s having a pretty middling season. He comes off a start in which he only managed to go 4 innings. Sounds a little like many of the Phillies outings, doesn’t it? Anyhow, he’ll likely need to go a bit further on Saturday night.

Chad Billingsley (1-2, 6.67) v. Chris Heston (8-5, 3.51 ERA) – Picking up his first win as a Phillie, Billingsley put up a very nice start (6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) his last time out, and showed some of what made him such a strong pitcher until injuries hit a couple of years ago. He should take some improved confidence to build off that start. For his first full season, Heston has performed quite amiably. He has only allowed 6 homers on the year while having a solid K/BB ratio (2.73) and a pretty strong WHIP (1.21). Heston could prove to be a tough challenge for the Phils in the Sunday afternoon series finale.

SERIES KEYS:

Billingsley must step up – He showed flashes of what he is capable of in Los Angeles and the Phils really need him to keep it going. Should he be able to do so, he would likely join Hamels to give the Phillies two good starting outings in the series which would put them in a good position to take those games, if the offense can support them. Not to mention, any time a starter can go 6 innings for the Fightins that provides a much needed break for a bullpen so often overworked.

Close the first half well – The all-star break is just days away, which will provide plenty of relief for both Phillies fans and players alike. However, the Phillies need to finish off the first half with a good series to keep team morale up as they move into the second half of the season and approach the trade deadline. This is especially important for a few of the younger guys that could be in it with the team for the long haul. After being way overmatched against Kershaw and Greinke, the team could really use an offensive breakout to lift their spirits.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Game 1: Friday, 10:15 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM (Spanish Language)

Game 2: Saturday, 10:05 PM, TV: CSN, MLBN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM (Spanish Language)

Game 3: Sunday, 4:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1680AM (Spanish Language)


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for AT&T Park in San Francisco, California

Tonight

Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, increasing clouds, with a low around 57. West wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.

Saturday

Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 65. West wind 9 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

Saturday Night

Patchy fog after 11pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 57. West wind 13 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

Sunday

Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 65. West southwest wind 6 to 9 mph.


INJURIES / DISABLED LISTS

GIANTSDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Affeldt, Jeremy (P)07/0415-day DLPossibly JulyLeft shoulder strainPlayed catch on flat ground July 3; placed on 15-day DL on June 26.
Aoki, Nori (LF)07/0915-day DLTBDRight fibula fractureWas expected to be in cast for two weeks as of June 23 update; placed on 15-day DL on June 24.
Hudson, Tim (P)07/0315-day DLTBDRight shoulder strainPlaced on 15-day DL on July 3 retroactive to June 27.
Lincecum, Tim (P)07/0215-day DLPossibly JulyRight forearm contusionPlaced on 15-day DL on July 2 retroactive to June 28.
Posey, Buster (C)07/08Any dayDay-to-dayRight hamstring tightnessNot in starting lineup July 7-8.
Scutaro, Marco (2B)07/0760-day DLTBDBackPlaced on 60-day DL on June 17.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Harang, Aaron (P)07/0215-day DLTBDPlantar fasciitis in left footPlaced on 15-day DL on July 2.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)07/0960-day DLTBDRight shoulderScheduled to undergo surgery July 22.
Utley, Chase (2B)07/0315-day DLPossibly JulyRight ankle inflammationReceived cortisone injection June 24; placed on 15-day DL on June 23.
Williams, Jerome (P)07/0815-day DLPossibly early JulyLeft hamstring strainSent on Double-A rehab assignment July 7; placed on 15-day DL on June 17.
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