Oh, fantastic. Another team with eight hitters who would hit cleanup if they were on the Giants. You might remember this situation from such past series as "Giants vs. Padres", "Giants vs. Nationals", and the overlooked spring series, "Giants Meet the Rock 'n' Jock Softball Challenge." Well, it's worse this time. The Giants have 66 home runs this season. Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez have combined for 52. Ye gods.
It's a good test for the Giants, though. The Phillies are a good team, but the punishment should be softened by the home-field advantage. Maybe. I hope. Baby steps. If the Giants even split this series, I'll start to believe again. And this belief will last until the next road trip, in which the Giants will lose four of three against the Astros, scoring two unearned runs for the series. At that point, I'll stop believing. This non-belief will last until the following homestand. This pattern should last until, oh, 2014.
Hitter to watch
Uh, none of them? As in, I'm going to occupy my time with something else before the start of every top half of the inning. Top of the first: makin' a sammich. Top of the second: doin' dishes. I have it all planned out. Seriously, the only stinker in the lineup is Jimmy Rollins -- he's been about as productive this year as Edgar Renteria -- but that's almost certainly just a mirage. Did you just think, "Wait, Carlos Ruiz isn't that good"? That .325 on-base percentage would look pretty sweet in the middle of our order. Mmmm. A .325 on-base percentage. I'll just have to keep telling myself, "someday... someday..."
The only position player I'm curious to watch in a non-morbid way is the new, improved, walk-friendly Pedro Feliz. Well, that didn't exactly stick, but he definitely has a strange batting line (291/.338/.399) compared to what we're used to (.247/.246/.435).
Pitcher to watch:
The obvious choice is Cy Young winning adverb Cliff Lee, but that would be a pitcher not to watch. I mean, he's going up against Ryan Sadowski. Sure, there's a small chance that Ryan Garko knows some secret -- "Okay, wait until the jewel on his hat starts flashing, and that's when you start your swing." -- but this has to be one of the top ten mismatches in baseball this year. It's pretty amazing that the Phillies were able to get Lee without Kyle Drabek. Also of note: the amount of time it takes to go from "is this guy for real?" to "this guy is for real" is about a season-and-a-half. At the end of 2007, I wouldn't have traded Pat Misch for Cliff Lee.
No, the pitcher to watch will be Jamie Moyer, the octogenarian change-up master of doom. Moyer's going up against Tim Lincecum, which has to be one of the greatest spectrum matchups in history, non-knuckleball division. This won't be the game to watch when explaining baseball to a foreigner. Or maybe it's the perfect game. Dunno. It's pretty freaky, though. It'll be like watching a heads-up golf match with one player using clubs and one using trained dachshunds. How is it even the same sport? And with enough booze, it'll be pretty amusing to watching Giants hitters go Gashouse Gorillas trying to hit Moyer's change up.
The Giants will win at least one game this series. Pablo Sandoval will make me smile and gesture wildly. Bold predictions on both counts, but I'll stick by them.