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Series preview: Giants vs. Rangers

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Can the Giants nab their first series win?

San Francisco Giants Summer Workouts Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants attempt to win their first series of the year fell short in extra innings against the San Diego Padres. They’ll hit the reset button and try again with a new opponent.

These are pretty important games if the Giants want to compete for a postseason spot. The schedule is about to get brutal, and they need to capitalize on home games against average competition.


The details

Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:10 p.m.), Saturday (6:10 p.m.), and Sunday (1:05 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Friday (ESPN2)


Where they stand

San Francisco Giants

Record: 3-4, fourth place in the NL West
Run differential: -18, tenth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: In a five-way tie for the second Wild Card slot in the NL

Texas Rangers

Record: 2-3, fourth place in the AL West
Run differential: -3, tied for fifth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Half game behind the second Wild Card slot in the AL


Three Giants to watch

Brandon Belt: Belt returned to the team for Thursday’s finale, and made his season debut. It was a spectacularly Brandon Belt performance. He struck out in his first two plate appearances, and then walked the next three times.

Seeing him back in the lineup was a very welcome sight. Now let’s see him but the wood on some baseballs and take a test run it what appears to suddenly be a hitter’s park.

Evan Longoria: Longoria also made his season debut on Thursday. He hit the ball hard a few times, though only had a single to show for it. Before Thursday’s game, he was pretty candid about not being fully healthy, but being healthy enough.

On the one hand, that might just be better honesty than we’re used to seeing in sports. On the other hand, it might be a sign that he’s going through it physically. Either way, it’s good to see him back.

Logan Webb: Webb didn’t have great numbers in his season debut, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk in 4.0 innings, while striking out just 2 batters. But he limited the damage to just 1 earned run against one of the better offensive teams in MLB history, and there’s much to be said for that.

Webb remains a prospect with a high ceiling, and against a slightly lesser offense he’ll have a chance to prove that he can be a major asset.

Bonus Giant to watch — Joey Bart: After DFA’ing Dany Jimenez, the Giants have an open spot on the 40-man roster. They also are past the point of Bart accruing a full year of service time if he joins the team. I would expect to see him called up sometime this weekend, which would immediately vault him to the top of this list.


Three Rangers to watch

Mike Minor: The Giants won’t have to face two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who was injured in his first start of the year, or last year’s fifth-place finished Lance Lynn, who pitched on Wednesday.

That’s some good luck. But they do face Mike Minor in the opener, and Minor struck out 200 batters a year ago while making the All-Star team. The Giants have had virtually no power against lefties this year, registering just three extra-base hits in 73 plate appearances.

Todd Frazier: The Giants are certainly familiar with Frazier, who has spent seven of his ten MLB seasons in the National League. But after regressing for a few years, the corner infielder had a decent 2019, and he’s started 2020 with a vengeance. Through five games, the two-time All-Star is hitting .267/.389/.600.

Joey Gallo: After the week that Fernando Tatis Jr. had, the Giants are probably getting tired of facing fun sluggers. But that’s what Gallo is. He’s a lefty with a lot of power, who hit 81 home runs across 2017 and 2018 (and was on pace for more than 40 last year had he not dealt with an injury). He’s not a great player, but he’s a good player who’s fun to watch, and will try and feast on the new Oracle Park.


Bonus players to watch

Tyler Heineman is a catcher for the Giants. Scott Heineman is an outfielder for the Rangers, though he’s only played in one game this year.

There’s a decent chance we’ll get to see the brothers play in the same game, which will make up for the fact that the new schedule cost us the opportunity to see Tyler Rogers and his brother Taylor Rogers (a Minnesota Twins reliever) play in the same game.


Best case/worst case

Best case scenario: The Giants have been hitting the ball well lately, and there’s a chance that the arms could follow suit now that they’re not facing the Dodgers or Padres. At home, against an average team, the Giants could definitely earn a sweep here.

Worst case scenario: The Giants pitchers have not been good at all, and even though the Rangers aren’t the world’s greatest offense, they can do damage. The worst case is losing the series, wearing out most of the pitchers ahead of a trip to Coors Field, and generally not seeing much of a path for this team to make the playoffs.


Prediction

Neither team is playing great baseball, but the Giants have shown a lot of fight, just got reinforcements, and are at home. I give them the nod 2-1.