Nothing about the 2020 MLB season has been normal, and the San Francisco Giants series against the Seattle Mariners is a shining example of that.
The series was supposed to start on Tuesday in Seattle. Instead it starts on Wednesday in San Francisco. And the Mariners will be the home team, on the road.
Yes, that’s baseball in 2020, only this time it’s not the pandemic that caused the alterations, but the air quality from the many fires burning on the west coast.
Kind of puts the baseball part into perspective when you have to move the games hundreds of miles just to be able to breath while playing.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Seattle Mariners
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Wednesday (6:45 p.m.) and Thursday (1:10 p.m.)
National broadcasts: None
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 23-24, third place in the NL West
Run differential: -1, fifth in the MLB West
Postseason standing: Sole possession of the NL’s second Wild Card
Current momentum: Lost three in a row, 6-4 in their last 10
Record: 22-26, third place in the AL West
Run differential: -44, seventh in the MLB West
Postseason standing: First team out, but by quite a lot
Current momentum: Lost one in a row, 6-4 in their last 10
Season series: Giants lead 2-0 with a +10 run differential
Three Giants to watch
Drew Smyly: Last week, Smyly returned from the Injured List and looked tremendous, pitching 4 innings of relief and allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run, while striking out 8. He replaced Trevor Cahill in that game, and now he replaces Cahill in the rotation. He’ll pitch the series opener, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep performing so well.
Tyler Anderson: Things have been mostly downhill for Anderson ever since he threw the first complete game of his career a few weeks ago. But his last start also came against these Mariners, and he righted the ship a bit, by allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs in 6 innings. He pitches on Thursday.
Joey Bart: You could basically pick any hitter here, but I’m going with Bart. The hot prospect hit a double in each of his first three games; in the 18 games since then, he has just one extra-base hit (a triple). But he’s been swinging the bat well lately, and his defense behind home plate has been very strong. He went 3-8 in the two-game series against Seattle last week, and gets to face the same starters this time around.
Three Mariners to watch
Ljay Newsome: When the Giants and Mariners played last week, I highlighted Newsome, who started the series opener. It was just the second career start, and third career appearance for the right-handed prospect. And it was cut short, as Newsome left in the second inning after taking a liner off his wrist.
Thankfully he wasn’t injured, and he starts the second series as well. So maybe now we’ll get a look at him.
Nick Margevicius: Margevicius started the second game of the series against the Giants last week, and he’ll do the same this week. Seattle will hope he fares better, while the Giants will try to recreate the line that they handed the lefty a week ago: 4.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and 7 earned runs. Mike Yastrzemski hit a homer off of Margevicius, while Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf had doubles. Keep your eye on them.
Kyle Lewis: Lewis is the Mariners best hitter this year, and he’s a right-hander in a series where the Giants will be throwing out a pair of lefties. He’s riding a 146 OPS+, though his hit allocation has been pretty funny: 36 singles, 10 home runs, 3 doubles, 0 triples.
Best case/worst case
Best case scenario: The Giants need to get back to their winning ways, and moving to .500 — while gaining momentum ahead of a tough series against the Oakland A’s — would be huge.
Worst case scenario: After playing some stellar baseball, the Giants are on a little skid. If that continues with a two-game sweep, they’ll not only be on the outside of the playoff picture, but questioning whether they have the skill to get back in.
A sweep. The good kind.