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Giants/Phillies Series Preview

note: There's a thread for September callups just below this post. You can enter your guess into the "Whose Daughter Did Kevin Frandsen Diddle?" contest there.

Click this link. Do it. Mouse over, find out where the link sends you, and then go there with glee. Click the link, and let the joy wash over you. Tim Lincecum. Pablo Sandoval. Edgar M.F. Renteria. That was the last time a series was this important.

I guess they’re all important from now on. Every game in this newfangled "September" seems to mean something. My pappy used to tell me stories his grandpappy used to tell him, and there was once a time when the Giants used to play meaningful games in every September. He used to get some penny candy, ride the trolley to the games, pay his nickel, and watch players like "Barry Bonds" and "Jeff Kent" do something they used to call "hitting the freaking ball." It was probably pretty special. I’m looking forward to these "meaningful" "September" games.

The last Phillies/Giants series was a little bit of a test. Sure, the Giants could beat teams like the Padres and the Pirates – except when they can’t – but the Phillies? It was a bellwether series – a harbinger of doom to come if they couldn’t beat a good team at home. But the Giants did quite well, taking three of four from the Phillies. They might have even swept the series, too, if it weren’t for those meddling Indians giving Cliff Lee away.

This series is even more of a bellwethery harbingering, though. It’s a good team on the road. You might remember such fantastic road series like San Diego and Pittsburgh, where the Giants flopped against bad teams. That stunk. This could be even worse of a thumping….

…or the Giants can say "We are so totally in this thing for reals" by taking the series. As a devout member of the Church of Jeff Weaver, and one of the planners for the annual St. Podsednik parade for my church, I firmly believe that any team in the playoffs has a chance to win it all with a well-timed hot streak. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t feel better if the team at least pretended they could win on the road, though.

Pitcher to watch:

Brad Penny is a lump of unpleasantness, but he should be a good fit in San Francisco. In Philadelphia, though? Against Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and the rest of the NL All-Star team? Those 400-foot fly outs aren’t so cute in Philadelphia. And I’m a-feared of Penny’s debut.

On the Philly side, Pedro Martinez is going against Tim Lincecum. I can’t figure out what that means. The Giants usually shock us all by scratching out a couple of runs against the best pitchers in the world, but then they wither against the rehab projects, the low-K control specialists, and the gimps of the world. Martinez is an unholy combination of all of the above. He’s a fantastic pitcher when he’s right, which is good news for the Giants. But he could still be recovering from his layoff, hurting his velocity and command, which is bad news for the Giants. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

Hitter to watch:

Freddy Sanchez should have a whale of a series. I’m looking forward to it. 

Also, Raul Ibanez is slumping hard. It was easy to defend against the Renteria "worst signing of the offseason" charges by pointing to Ibanez, but then Ibanez went nuts on the National League. Lately, he’s been more in line with preseason expectations, so hopefully he stays that way. Chances of that happening now that I’ve written that: 2%.


If the Giants lose this series, the season is over unless they find a way to win more games than the Rockies for the remainder of the season. Book it.