The Nationals are the kind of team that is susceptible to bloopers that float down the right-field line, and they're also one of those teams that tends to give up runs after they walk a backup catcher to lead off an inning. The Giants should work on that. Hitter to watch: Mike Morse. He's big. Pitcher to watch: John Lannan. He's all crouchy.
Good, now that we've mapped out the strategy for the Giants for the first game of this pending series, there was a comment made by someone -- Duane Kuiper, maybe? -- last night that caught my ear. When the Nationals were up 4-0, someone said something like:
Every year, there's a team under .500 that just owns the Giants. Maybe this year, it's the Nationals' turn.
It made sense at the time. But is there any truth to that? A look back at the pesky teams, limited to the seasons in which the Giants were actually good. So the Pirates could beat up on the 2006 Giants. Big whoop. This is about the bad teams that could beat the good ones.
Offending bad team: No one.
Well, that sure screwed the theory up. The Giants beat the teams they were supposed to beat. They lost 58 games to the Padres and went 92-12 against the rest of the league.
Offending bad team: Mets (3-5)
Typical game: 5/15/09
Lincecum was sailing along until before giving up a single and a walk. He was pulled for Merkin Valdez, who promptly walked the bases loaded before giving up a bases-clearing double on a straight fastball. I don't remember if it was a straight fastball. Just a guess. Then Brian Wilson made an error in a non-save situation to give the Mets the lead. Yuck.
Offending bad team: Pirates (1-5)
Typical game: 8/10/04
Jose Castillo was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. He also finished the season with an OPS of .666. Not sayin'/just sayin'. The Pirates were typically miserable in 2004, but they still managed to keep the Giants out of the playoffs. If the Giants could have just gone .500 against the Pirates, they would have finished with 93 wins.
Offending bad team: Expos (0-7)
Typical game: 8/18/03
Technically, the Expos were over .500, but that's only because they played the Giants. The Giants won 100 games and led the division wire-to-wire. Couldn't beat the Expos. They scored 14 runs in seven games, an average of ... carry the two ... dammit, pressed CE instead of C ... √4 ... two runs per game.
Offending bad team: Expos (2-4)
Typical game: 8/23/2002
Technically, the Expos were over .500, but that's ... wait a sec. I'm seeing a pattern. The Nationals are just the Expos with a fake mustache.
Offending bad team: Reds (2-4)
Typical game: 4/24/01
Jim Brower vs. Livan Hernandez. Livan lost that game, then he lost the World Series the next year, which led to the Brower/Hernandez trade, which led to Brower losing his rotator cuff in an industrial Alou accident. Livan then resurrected his career with the Expos/Nationals, so they're not off the hook.
Offending bad team: No one, though I did make you think about Kevin Elster, and for that, I'm sorry.
So is there always a bad team that owns winning Giants teams? Nah. No more than you'd expect with a 16-team league. But when it does happen, it's usually the Exponals. Which isn't to say that the Giants are doomed this year -- for one, we don't know where the Nationals are going to finish, and for another, the bloop-fest last night isn't going to happen against a cursed team.