10:00 PM EST, ESPN – Money Line: Giants -133, Run Line: 7.5 u 15
Division Rivals at opposite ends of the spectrum clash tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco, as the struggling Giants host the Colorado Rockies in the first of a three-game series by the Bay. One of the pleasant surprises of the season thus far, the Rockies (47-31, 3rd in NL West) have earned the odd distinction of owning the third-best record in the National League, though only place third in their own Division, as they continue to trail the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers by 4.5 games in the hyper-competitive National League West. After winning fourteen of eighteen contests, Colorado has come back down to planet Earth this past week, dropping five consecutive contests. However, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that they lost five straight, it was who they lost them to; all five defeats came at the hands of their division brethren, or more specifically, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the aforementioned Dodgers, whom they’re trying to keep pace with at the top of the West. The slide continued Sunday at Chavez Ravine, as Los Angeles prolonged their misery in the 12-6 defeat, exploding for six extra base hits. Starting Pitcher Tyler Anderson (3-5, 6.11 ERA) didn’t last long in this one, getting pulled after just 2.1 innings of work in which he relinquished four runs on five hits, including a pair of homers before the Bullpen was forced into duty far earlier than Black and his Staff would prefer. With that said, the visiting side was still in a position to win the game, holding a 6-4 lead going into the Seventh Inning, where the home side posted three runs followed by five more in the Eighth. Reliever Adam Ottavino (1-2, 4.94 ERA) took the brunt of the punishment, as six runs were charged to his name in the lone inning he tossed. Heading to the mound tonight for Black and Co. is German Marquez (5-3, 3.92 ERA), who despite earning a victory in just one of his last four starts, has provided good fortune for the Rockies nonetheless, as his team has gone on to win seven of the last eight games in which he has started. In his last outing, the Venezuelan International was once again solid, yielding just one run on four hits over the course of six innings (one of his lengthier performances), only to see his team relinquish the 2-1 lead they had amassed in his stead. As is often the case with Colorado Pitchers, the Rookie Righthander has been far better on the road than at home where the thin air lends towards offensive explosions; Marquez has posted a 3.00 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP, and thirty-three strikeouts in comparison to eleven walks in six starts away from home. Indeed, youth has been the order of the campaign for Black, who including Marquez has now utilized four Rookies in his Rotation, along with the likes of Kyle Freeland (8-5, 3.70 ERA), Antonio Senzatela (9-3, 4.79 ERA), and Jeff Hoffman (4-1, 4.29 ERA). Needless to say, the kids have been up to the task; at this point Colorado’s 3.70 ERA would rank fifth in the Majors among Rotations, and with twenty-five combined victories before the All-Star Break, they re well on their way to breaking the record set by the Florida Marlins back in 2006 (forty-three). Though make no mistake, this wasn’t planned by any means, but rather a happy accident of sorts for the Rockies; Chad Bettis (Chemotherapy), John Gray (Broken Foot), and the aforementioned Anderson (Knee) have each missed substantial time this season, thrusting the young arms into action.
Meanwhile, the season of misery continues for the Giants (27-51, 5th in NL West) who with last night’s loss at home to the New York Mets have now dropped twelve out of their last thirteen games. Possessing the second-worst record in the Majors couldn’t have been what Bruce Bochy and his Staff had in mind for 2017, even with Ace Starter Madison Bumgarner (0-3, 3.00 ERA) stuck on the Disabled List for sixty days rehabbing from a Grade Two Sprain to his Left (Throwing) Shoulder. There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight either, for Sunday’s 8-2 loss to the middling Mets served to further underscore this team’s glaring weaknesses. Without Bumgarner’s presence in the Rotation, this particular unit has floundered, as Matt Moore (3-8, 6.04 ERA) gave up five runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs, in 4.1 innings of labor before the Bullpen was called into play. Relievers Josh Osich (1-1, 4.98 ERA) and Hunter Strickland (1-2, 2.33 ERA) faltered in the latter stages, serving up a pair of home runs, as New York piled it on in the Eighth and Ninth frames. All in all, the Giants were tagged for a grand total of fourteen hits, with the fact that their opponent only scored eight runs coming off as somewhat fortunate, for the visitors left fifteen runners on base. Searching for answers, Bochy will counter tonight with Jeff Samadzija (2-9, 4.74 ERA), who like the majority of the Pitching Staff (or for that matter the entire Roster) has struggled immensely this season for this Last Place side. The tall Righthander has tasted victory just once in his last seven starts, with the Giants winning only one of them as well. However, what makes this term all the more perplexing for the 32-year old, is the fact that he’s been mowing down batters at a career-best clip; Samardzija has averaged a staggering 10.2 Strikeouts per Nine Innings this season, leading to a league-best 8.62 Strikeouts/Walk Ratio. In Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, he racked up eight strikeouts, the seventh time this term he has reached that plateau, yet was tagged for a pair of home runs, marking the third consecutive outings in which he has yielded a pair of homers. It’s truly odd to see a flamethrower like this exhibit such stellar control, yet routinely succumb to untimely hits and most of all, dreadful run support. San Francisco has done very little to help the guy, averaging just 3.47 runs over his fifteen starts, failing to score more than three runs on ten occasions. Granted, the Giants have never been much of hub for offensive firepower, but even by their standards this season has been particularly anemic; with the all-Star Break in sight, Bochy’s charges have floundered across the board, ranking tenth in the National League in Hits (636), thirteenth in Runs (291), dead-last in Home Runs (64), tenth in Walks (223), and thirteenth in Batting Average (.241), Fourteenth in On-Base Percentage (.304), as well as last in Slugging Percentage (.372) and OPS (.674).