Click this link. Do it. Don't mouse over like a weenie, find out where the link sends you, and then avoid it. Click the link, and let the horror wash over you. Wayne Franklin. Cody Ransom. Dustin Hermanson's sideburns. Unfortunate man-buzzard, Steve Finley. That was the last time a series was this important.
What? I'm just trying to be environmentally conscious when I recycle my series previews. It's also worth pointing out over and over again that it's been a long, long time since the Giants have been contenders -- serious contenders, not lawyerball contenders -- so every series against a direct competitor is the MOST IMPORTANT SERIES SINCE AUGHT-FOUR by default.
And the team is surely at a crossroads with this one. If the Rockies were to sweep, the Giants would be six games back of a playoff spot, which is enough to write off the season, but not quite, so we'd twist in the wind for a while, miserable and grumpy, not expecting a late-season miracle, but knowing that it wouldn't be mathematically impossible, watching every game with a morose and sullen dejection, knowing that if the team had a handful of even average hitters there would have been a chance to have a tremendously special playoff run with two of the best homegrown starting pitchers in franchise history, getting angrier and angrier throughout the offseason until our rage and disgust spills over into some sort of violent outburst at an orphanage that puts us at the mercy of a judge who happens to be a Dodgers fan.
So I propose that the Giants should avoid getting swept.
The biggest obstacle to a positive outcome in this series: Coors Field. It's just a mix of mortar, stone, metal, and evil, right? And, heck, there's at least one instance of a Giants team needing to win in Coors Field, and doing just that. So what's the big deal about Coors Field?
Because the 12,034 games that weren't the Brian Johnson game of September 24, 1997 ended in tears. The Giants must feel like a cow sniffing around an abattoir when the team bus pulls up to Coors Field. Awful, awful place. Even worse, the Rockies have figured out a way for teams to play baseball in Coors, not some miserable amalgamation of arena football and that crappy LJN game on the first Nintendo. How did the laws of physics change so conveniently at Coors Field? Let's ask Charlie Monfort, CEO of the Rockies!
mumble mumble humidor or something mumble mumble
There you have it. Clear as a pane of glass. Actually, I'm all for the humidor. If I were the commissioner, my investigation would have been something like this:
Me: Okay, so what's going on here? Why aren't there as many runs being scored in Coors Field. Ritual sacrifice? Some sort of misapplied defense technology? Let's hear it.
Rockies representative: Oh, my, no. We've just figured out how to make the baseballs more like normal ba...
Me: Good. Glad to hear it. Carry on.
Rockies representative: Uh, wait. Don't you want to know the physics behin...
Me: Thank you for your time. I approve of your method to reduce runs in what was formerly a stain on baseball's proud history.
Rockies representative: Well, it's just a simple matter of humidity. See, if...
Me: If you need a discount on bulk chickens for your ritual sacrifice, I know a guy who knows a guy. My work here is done.
The reduced scoring is still creepy. And, heck, it's not as if it's led the Giants to a bunch of wins. But it's nice to have 30 teams play a watchable variety of baseball. It was a drag when there were only 29, and the lone holdout was a team that the Giants had to face several hundred times each season. I still dread series in Colorado. Oh, my, how I dread series in Colorado.
Hitter to watch:
Every single hitter on the Giants. Score some freaking runs, you derelicts.
Pitcher(s) to watch:
Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jason Marquis are all exactly the kind of pitchers who have given the Giants trouble this season: the kind who pitch overhand from less than 94 feet away. My guess as to the strategy of Giants hitters for each pitcher:
- Cook - Swing at the first pitch, as that's usually when he throws his knuckler up in the zone. (Note: this guess presumes that the Giants have no idea that Cook throws a sinker, which is how the last few Cook/Giants games have played out.)
- De La Rosa - He can have control issues at times, so he'll probably try to lay every first pitch fastball right down the middle. Swing at that first pitch!
- Jimenez - Swing wildly at the first two pitches to build up his confidence. Then he'll relax and throw a fastball right down the middle. Swing!
- Marquis - He doesn't strike a lot of hitters out, but he's lowered his walk rate this season. So take a few pitches, as he's likely to nibble a bit early, but he'll come into the strike zone at some point. Wait for your pitch. Well, unless you have a really, really good feeling that the first pitch of the at-bat is going to be the fattest pitch ever thrown by a major league pitcher. If that's the case, then swing away!
I, for one, am overflowing with confidence.
Go Giants. This whole season has been a bit of a surprise. We can handle a few more.