Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9/20 Lincecum vs. Kershaw Showdown Tonight

Oh man.  Here’s the lineup for tonight’s Lincecum vs. Kershaw matchup:

CF  Torres
2B  Keppinger
RF  Beltran
3B  DeRosa
1B  Pill
SS  Cabrera
LF Christian
C   Stewart
P   Lincecum

This does not look good, Giants fans.  Lincecum already doesn’t get enough run support.  In recent times, Torres isn’t comfortable- and has been especially ineffective from the right side.  Keppinger doesn’t seem to be seeing the ball as well the last week or two.  Beltran is effectively ‘isolated’ in the lineup without Pablo, and DeRosa behind him.  Could I imagine the LAD putting Beltran on first twice with IBB's?  Yes, I could.  Pill is also not protected in the lineup with Cabrera (who doesn’t hit for power) behind him.  Christian hasn’t shown enough production at the MLB level, Stewart is not playing due to his offense, and Lincecum is not a exactly an offensive threat at the plate.

I hope Torres can find a way to get on base.  He’s the only Giant that scores nearly 50% of the time he gets on base.  Since 2009, he hovers around scoring 45% of the time he’s on.  No other Giant is even close.  He might not be a ‘hot hitter’ like the 2010 Torres, but he makes a big difference if/when he gets on.  That’s for dang sure.  And that can definitely start rallies.  We all know hitting is contagious with our Giants (if you don’t, please consult your doctor).

I see a lot of quick one-two-three innings for the Giants hitters.  Or maybe sprinkle in one runner stranded on first (a walk, a bloop single, etc) for a couple innings.  Yeah, not good.

Conversely, the Dodgers.  It’s really not even about them.  It’s about our lineup- well, our defense.  My first reaction to seeing this Giants lineup was “three doubles against us”.  A couple lefty hitters (Loney and Ethier, for example) going down the third-base line, can DeRo be expected to range and pick ‘em on the hot corner?  We’d better hope so.  Some right-handed bats like Kemp, Barajas, and Rivera…  Can Beltran actually run some good angles in RF and keep a batter to a single?  We’d better hope so.  Or can we have solid defense on a gap shot between the outfielders?  We’d better hope so.

I can see a scenario where Lincecum is going to have to be nails.  Two situations where he’ll need to get out of a ‘runner on third, less than two out”.  Maybe Gordon takes a walk and steals second, gets hit over to third.  Maybe those dang doubles I envision being hit off Lincecum.  To counter all this, Lincecum would need his best stuff.  I’m looking for 11 or more strikeouts today.  And yes, that also means he needs to get to at least six-and-two-thirds innings.

This may be the biggest game left on the schedule for our G-Men.  Any who ask how I could say the head-to-head games with AZ aren’t more meaningful?  Well…  They really are only meaningful if we sweep the Dodgers first.  And if somehow we can find a way to get this game against Kewshaw, I think that feeling of ‘invincibility’ we seemed to carry after beating ATL in the NLDS could come back to us.  And I hope that can all happen- starting tonight.

The amount of pressure both pitchers are facing tonight are tremendous.  Kershaw wants to solidify his spot as a top candidate for the 2011 NL Cy Young.  Don’t think for a second that ain’t nothing to a pitcher.  Lincecum is pitching for our virtual last gasp at reaching the post-season this year.

Can we maintain the offensive level we’ve carried into and through Colorado?  I don’t know.  I think it is a mental grind when you’re backed up against a wall for that long a stretch.  I know these two rivals both want to shove the game into the others’ proverbial faces.  But…  I also think one ace pitcher will crack tonight.

So, who?  That’s way beyond my ability to ‘predict’.  Odds don’t favor this Giants lineup as getting the ‘tilt’ in their favor.  But who knows?  Maybe Bochy will actually make good bench moves in favorable situations tonight.  Maybe.

My feeling is that this will NOT be a pitchers’ duel late into the game.

One team will have 3 runs scored against them by the fourth inning or 4 runs scored against them by the fifth inning.  Those dang doubles worry me.  Maybe a ball tipping off the glove of Cabrera and getting Miles a double…  Whatever.  Just my big concern of this game: don’t give up the doubles tonight.

So?  I’m not really taking a stance on the score or who wins.  I can’t “see it” tonight.  While I’ve been posting on Extra Baggs, I’ve pretty much nailed my predictions the last four straight games.  Yes, including scoring four runs in the first four innings on Harang, Pill’s bases-clearing triple, Fontenot getting hit-by-a-pitch, Cain’s home run, Bumgarner shutting down the Rox offense, the bottom of the order winning a game, Pablo and Carlos carrying the offense the next game.  This ain’t just ‘guesses’ at scores or spreads.  I’ve been talking specifics.  And today’s game?  No doubles for L.A.!

Let’s Go Giants!  BEAT L.A.!

Image credit: This image of Andres Torres is my own.  All Rights Reserved.

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