Daniel Leroux. 29th August, 2011 - 1:29 pm
The Week That Was:
After Thursday, it looked like it was going to be a rough week. The Padres "series" ended in a two game split while the new nemesis in the form of the Houston Astros took game one since the Giants could not hit anything. Fortunately, the team got two 2-1 wins behind excellent outings from young'ns Madison Bumgarner and Eric Surkamp and solid relief pitching. Sunday's game featured gems from both Matt Cain and the Bay Area's own Bud Norris, with the Giants coming back twice and still losing in eleven innings.
The big take-away from the week that was must be Eric Surkamp, especially in light of Bruce Bochy's discussion before Sunday's game that Jonathan Sanchez is not recovering well from his ankle injury. This year has shown exactly why having an MLB-quality fifth starter around at all time is crucial. While it may take Surkamp more time to become that guy long-term, it feels better having him as a stopgap as long as opposing hitters have trouble reading his breaking balls.
The Soapbox: One Huge Week
Normally, I'm not one to place an inordinate amount of pressure on a single game or a single week with a month left in the season. However, exceptions prove the rule and this week holds a great deal of importance for the Giants. Many will focus on the weekend series with Arizona (as I will later), yet the series with the Cubs holds a great deal of import as well. This Giants team simply has to do better than split series against teams they possess advantages over. This past week saw a .500 record in six home games against teams simply playing for pride. The fundamental problem with leaving games against winnable teams on the table is that it gets harder to make them up as we get later in the season. Catching the Diamondbacks will be different than catching the Padres for many, many reasons, not the least of which has to be San Francisco's appalling lack of offense.
Getting Andres Torres and Sergio Romo back helps for sure, yet this team must take advantage of squads in turmoil and/or with lesser talent. This Cubs series should tell us a great deal about whether this Giants team can piece together what it takes to make the last week of the season as exciting and torturous as 2010.
The Week Ahead: The Big Ones (oh, and the Cubs too)
As much as teams like to say they play the season one day at a time, it is awfully hard not to look past the Cubbies for the gigantic three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That said, the Cubs and Giants already battled to a split series in late June after also splitting the reduced two-gamer at Wrigley earlier in the year.
The Arizona series has significant implications beyond the obvious for two reasons. First, these two teams have not played in a month, with the last series being a painful three game one where Arizona beat both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Beyond that, the squads only play one more series after this weekend on the last weekend of the regular season in Phoenix. The most effective way to make up ground on a team ahead of you is to beat them, particularly since the Giants are staring a ten game road trip right in the face right before the end of the year.
Marquee Game of the Week: Obviously the entire series against the Diamondbacks is must-see, and the biggest match-up of those three games looks to be Saturday when either Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain (depending on how Bochy decides to handle the off-day) pitches against Ian Kennedy. Sunday will be either Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong against Daniel Hudson, which is no slouch either.