The San Francisco Giants are finally and mercifully on the final leg of their 10-game road trip. They’ve played well for stretches, but enter a three-game set against the Houston Astros with just a 2-5 record during their travels.
It’s hard to know what to make of the series, since the Astros should be one of the top teams in baseball, but are struggling in a big way right now.
The Giants will try and end their trip on a high note, and they’ll try and avoid what happened the last time a Bay Area team played the Astros, which was ... uhh ... yesterday.
Laureano wasn't happy with the Astros after he got hit by a pitch pic.twitter.com/ysiXICstKb— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 9, 2020
Laureano charges the Astros dugout and the brawl breaks out pic.twitter.com/CQ2K8kFnlb— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 9, 2020
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Houston Astros
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
When: Monday (6:10 p.m.), Tuesday (6:10 p.m.), and Wednesday (4:10 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Monday (ESPN)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 7-10, fourth place in the NL West
Run differential: -24, eighth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: First team outside of the playoffs in the NL
Current momentum: Lost one in a row
Record: 6-9, third place in the AL West
Run differential: +1, fifth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Tied for third team outside of the playoffs in the AL
Current momentum: Lost five in a row
Three Giants to watch
Brandon Belt: Belt had a big game in the series against the Colorado Rockies, but his bat has mostly been quiet this season (though it’s worth noting that he missed the first week). He’s hitting 4-26 on the year, with 1 home run, 1 double, and 5 walks to 9 strikeouts. That’s good for a line of .154/.290/.308 and a wRC+ of 79.
But Minute Maid Park is a hitter’s park, and Texas is home to Belt. This is as good a time as any to break out.
Logan Webb: Webb was tremendous in his most recent start, allowing less than one baserunner per inning despite the game being at Coors Field. He went 5 innings and finished with 4 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 1 earned run. He gets the ball in the series opener.
Gabe Kapler: Kapler enters the series not exactly looking great in the eyes of Giants fans. His decision to pull Kevin Gausman early on Sunday may have cost the Giants the series, and that comes after mishaps such as trying to remove a pitcher he couldn’t legally remove, and challenging calls that have no chance of getting overturned. He needs to be his sharpest this series.
Three Astros to watch
Dusty Baker: As long as we’re including managers, let’s talk about Giants legend Dusty Baker. The fanbase always has good feelings about Baker, but that will especially be true on this trip, given the current sentiment surrounding Kapler. It’s a bummer that the Giants are playing the Astros and Kruk and Kuip don’t get to be there to say hello to Baker, but oh well.
Carlos Correa: The Astros have had a disappointing year thus far, but that’s through no fault of Correa’s, as he’s been blasting the stitching off of the baseball. He’s hitting 19-55 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, and 7 walks.
Zack Greinke: Greinke has been elite for a very long time, winning MVP and Cy Young in 2009, and still sitting as one of the top pitchers in baseball. With Gerrit Cole having left in free agency, and Justin Verlander getting injured early in the season, Greinke has taken over as the ace of the Astros staff. So far he’s delivered, allowing just 12 hits and 3 walks in 15 innings, while striking out 11 and earning an FIP of 2.30. He’s slated to pitch the series finale.
Best case/worst case
Best case scenario: The Astros have been crumbling of late, having lost five games in a row. The Giants are not exactly hot, but they’ve shown that they have a lot of fight in them, and don’t get down when they lose. I think a sweep is legitimately possible here.
Worst case scenario: If a sweep is possible in the Giants favor, then it’s definitely possible in the Astros favor. That would leave the Giants with a 2-8 record on the road trip, and 7-13 record overall. They’ll be in desperate need of wins as they head for a series against the Oakland A’s, arguably the top team in baseball this year.
Fortune favors the bold, or so they say. I’m going to test that theory and say the Giants win the series 2-1.