The Philadelphia Phillies (59-55) will continue their roller-coaster ride of a 2019 regular season out west with a long weekend visit to face the host San Francisco Giants (56-59) at Oracle Park.
The Giants, who stormed back into the National League Wildcard playoff picture with a scorching hot July, have stumbled backwards in August. Since flipping the page over on the calendar, San Francisco has gone just 1-6.
Wins in just four of their last 13 contests, including dropped two of three to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, have dropped the Giants 3.5 out in that Wildcard race with four teams now standing between them and a spot in the postseason.
For the Phillies, losses in three of their last four games leave them tied for one of the two NL Wildcard berths. However, there are now five teams within 1.5 games of one another in what looks like it is shaping up to be a wild sprint (stumble?) down the stretch.
The biggest problem for both of these teams of late has been an inability to score runs. The Giants enter the series having put just 17 runs up on the scoreboard across their seven August games. That is an average of just 2.43 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Phillies have crossed the plate just 23 times over their own last half-dozen, or an average of 3.83 runs per contest.
The Giants have averaged just 4.24 runs per game over the entire 2019 season, the second-lowest per-game output in the National League. They also have registered the league’s second-lowest OPS, and have the second-lowest home run total in the NL, ahead of only the rebuilding Miami Marlins in each of those categories.
Things aren’t much better statistically on the mound for San Francisco. The pitching staff ranks just 10th of the 15 NL ball clubs in batting average against (.254) and OPS against (.754) as well as strikeouts. The Giants came in at 18th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in our latest MLB Power Rankings released one week ago, with the Phillies ranking in the No. 14 position.
With so many teams between them and a postseason berth, this is now a pivotal series for the host Giants. If the Phillies manage to somehow take three of four here, that would probably sound the death knell for the 2019 season by the bay.
For their part, the Phillies need to come out of this with at least a split. That would allow the club to return home next week having gone no worse than 3-4 in a two-city western swing.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
TOP LINEUP THREATS
Kevin Pillar (30/CF): .252/.281/.420, 13 HR, 42 XBH, 56 RBIs, 55 runs, 9 steals
Brandon Belt (31/1B): .233/.347/.390, 12 HR, 33 XBH, 39 RBIx, 57 runs
Evan Longoria (33/3B): ..239/.314/.439, 13 HR, 30 XBH, 39 RBIx, 38 runs
Pablo Sandoval (32/3B): .267/.312/.507, 14 HR, 37 XBH, 41 RBIs, 42 runs
Mike Yastrzemski (28/LF): .264/.316/.477, 10 HR, 24 XBH, 34 RBIs, 37 runs
Scooter Gennett (29/2B): .218/.233/.310, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 7 RBIs, 5 runs (90 plate appearances with CIN/SFG)
Gennett arrived in a trade deadline deal from the Cincinnati Reds, leading to the release of longtime Giants second baseman Joe Panik.
Buster Posey: A Georgia native now in his 11th big-league season, Posey was the first round pick of the Giants at 5th overall in the 2008 MLB Draft out of Florida State University.
After receiving a cup of coffee in September 2009, Posey became the Giants starting catcher in the 2010 season. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finished 11th in NL MVP voting, then led the Giants past the Phillies in five games in the NLCS enroute to the first World Series championship for the franchise in 56 years.
Two years later, Posey made his first of six NL All-Star teams, won his first of four NL Silver Sluggers, and won that NL MVP Award. He also once again helped the Giants to a World Series crown.
Posey and the Giants would add a third World Series championship to their franchise trophy case in the 2014 season. In 2016, Posey won his long career NL Gold Glove Award at catcher.
The wear and tear of catching more than 900 games at the big-league level have taken their toll on Posey, who is now 32-year-old. Still, he has been behind the plate in 74 of the team’s 115 games this season.
He received a nine-year contract at $167+ million which runs through the 2021 season with a 2022 team option. It will be interesting to see whether the Giants can remain a playoff contender over the next year or two, and if not, whether he could end up moving on to another team. For all the world, Posey feels like a one-team player to me, and he will make an interesting Hall of Fame case one day late in the 2020’s.
GIANTS SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS
Thursday – Madison Bumgarner (29/LH): 6-7, 3.92 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 140 hits over 144.2 IP across 24 starts with a 142/30 K:BB
Friday – Tyler Beede (26/RH): 3-6, 5.38 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.602 WHIP, 84 hits over 73.2 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 69/34 K:BB
Saturday – Jeff Samardzija (34/RH): 8-9, 3.70 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.164 WHIP, 111 hits over 126.1 IP across 23 starts with a 110/36 K:BB
Sunday – Conner Menez (24/LH): 0-1, 5.73 ERA, 7.49 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, 9 hits over 11 IP across 2 starts with a 10/5 K:BB
Now 64 years of age, Bochy was actually born in Landes de Bussac, France while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. His family ultimately moved to Florida, and he became the first round draft choice at 23rd overall in the 1975 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Bochy reached the big-leagues with Houston in 1978, beginning what would become a nine-season career as a player in Major League Baseball. A catcher, he was famously plowed into by Pete Rose, who was scoring what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th inning as the Phillies rallied to tie up the 1980 NLCS at two games apiece. He was the backup catcher with the San Diego Padres team that won a National League pennant in 1984.
After his retirements as a player, Bochy was hired to manage in the San Diego minor league system. In 1993 he was moved up to the big club, taking over as the third base coach. Then for the 1995 season, Bochy was finally hired as manager of the Padres. Over 12 years as skipper in southern California, Bochy amassed a 951-975 record, guiding the Friars to four division crowns and a 1998 NL pennant.
Let go following the 2006 season, Bochy immediately caught on as manager with the division-rival Giants, and has been the skipper in San Francisco ever since. Over 13 years by the bay, Bochy has a 1,029-1,021 record and has led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His 2016 team went to the postseason as a Wildcard team.
Overall, Bochy is now in his 25th consecutive season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He has a combined record of 1,980-1,996 between his work with the Padres and Giants organizations. He is just 28 wins behind Leo Durocher for 10th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list, 60 behind Walter Alston for 9th place on that list. That top ten spot is his goal, as Bochy has battled health issues and has already announced that this will be his final season as manager.
Oracle Park: Originally opened for the 2000 season as “Pac Bell Park” and having undergone two prior name changes, most recently to “AT&T Park”, this gorgeous facility took on the “Oracle Park” name this season.
Lying off the San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is visible from the right field bleachers, beyond which lies China Basin, now nicknamed “McCovey Cove” after Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The Cove is a hangout via kayack and small water craft for souvenir hunters hoping to snare a home run ball flying entirely out of the yard.
To hit a ball into that cove, batters have to lift one over the 24-foot high right field wall, that number in feet chosen to honor Willie Mays, the Hall of Famer who wore that number with the Giants.
Behind the left field bleachers is a giant Coca-Cola bottle, which lights up after any Giants home run. Playground slides can be found inside the bottle, which is located in a park-like area. Next to the bottle is the “Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove” art work.
It is 309 feet down the right field line to that wall, out to 365 feet in right field and 421 to right-center, the deepest part of the ballpark. Around to dead center field it is 399 feet, then 404 in left-center, 364 in left field, and finally 339 feet down the left field line.
Though the Giants have won three World Series titles earlier in this decade – 2010, 2012 and 2014 – all of those championships were clinched on the road. The ballpark has been the site of three no-hitters, including a 2012 ‘Perfect Game’ thrown by Matt Cain.
The semi-finals and championship round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic were held here, and the park was an official sellout for Giants games over 794 consecutive games between October 2010 and July 2017.
SERIES WEATHER REPORT
Thursday: Partly cloudy with temps dropping from the lower-60’s at the 9:45 pm EDT first pitch into the upper-50’s during the series opener with winds moderate off the bay and just the slightest chance of precipitation.
Friday: Partly cloudy with temps in the lower-60’s at the 10:15 pm EDT first pitch and remaining consistent all evening with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Saturday: Sun breaking out for the 4:05 pm EDT first pitch with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, gorgeous afternoon for what will be a 7:05 pm EDT first pitch. Winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during this ESPN Game of the Week.
San Francisco area forecast from The Weather Channel
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