It's been an abysmal homestand so far for Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants. Swept by the Miami Marlins earlier this week, the Giants also fell in Friday's series opener vs. the Milwaukee Brewers to enter Saturday's contest on a 4-game skid.
San Francisco was priced at -150 to even the set with a win against the Brew Crew in Game 2. That game was still pending and featured an all-lefty mound clash between the Giants' Madison Bumgarner and Milwaukee's Randy Wolf. If San Fran can grab the dubya in that game, Bochy's squad can get back to .500 on the season with another win Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET) when ace Matt Cain takes the mound opposite Shaun Marcum of the Brewers.
To be fair, injuries to key personnel have dogged the Giants in the early going, beginning with 2B Freddy Sanchez who started the season on the DL while he continued to rehab from shoulder surgery. That rehab has been slow, and his return to action is without a timetable.
San Francisco then lost closer Brian Wilson to season-ending elbow surgery, with the bullpen taking another hit when Jeremy Affeldt hit the DL with a knee injury. The Giants have also been without 1B Aubrey Huff because of anxiety disorder, and just placed 3B Pablo Sandoval on the shelf this week because of a broken hand that needed surgery. Sandoval is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Fortunately for Bochy, his starting rotation remains intact and ranked among the top 5 in the NL in ERA (3.16), batting average against (.216) and WHIP (1.14) when play started Saturday.
Cain has dropped his last two starts and the Giants are just 2-3 in his 2012 assignments despite the right-hander owning a 2.35 ERA. His last four outings have each been quality starts and his ERA at AT&T Park is a tiny 0.69 in three games (26 IP).
The Brewers have been a bit troublesome for him recently, with Cain 2-3 in his last five tries vs. Milwaukee while posting a 4.36 ERA.
Meanwhile, Ron Roenicke's rotation has been anything but the team's strength to this point. Milwaukee starters rank 15th in the NL in ERA (4.97), WHIP (1.50) and BAA (.284), and the offense hasn't been able to do enough to make up for the poor effort from the mound corps.
Marcum has the lowest ERA among the starters (3.19), yet the Brewers have dropped each of his last four trips to the hill with the offense supplying just nine runs total in those games. His lone career outing in San Francisco came last July, and Marcum picked up the win with seven 4-hit innings while allowing just two runs as a +120 underdog.
The unpredictable Angel Hernandez should have the plate for the series finale. Two of his first three games calling the balls and strikes have gone 'under' the total, and that comes on the heels of a 2011 campaign in which the low side prevailed at a 19-15-2 clip.
Zito Gets Nod As Giants Begin Road Trip In LA
Staying with the Giants as we head into next week, they'll skip town after Sunday's game vs. the Brewers to make a short trip south to Los Angeles for Monday's matchup against the Dodgers. The contest begins a 6-game road trip for San Francisco who will be in Arizona following the 3-game set in LA.
Game 1 in Los Angeles is another all-lefty mound duel for the Giants who send Barry Zito up against the Dodgers' Ted Lilly for the 10:10 p.m. (ET) start.
Don Mattingly's club will be returning to LA after a 6-game tour through Colorado and Chicago. That trip started by dropping three of the first four contests, and the Dodgers will no doubt be happy to come back to Chavez Ravine where they've started the year 10-2 and outscored the opposition 50-32. Los Angeles is also 6-1 at home so far in 1-run games.
The Dodgers are also off to a 3-1 beginning to the season with Lilly on the hill, and why not with the Cali native sporting a 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in those four assignments. The 13-year vet has been immensely efficient on the mound, using under 83 pitches on average and twice working seven full frames. He came out of his last start in Colorado after six innings and 79 pitches due to a mild oblique strain, but is reportedly ready to go on Monday.
Lilly has made four starts vs. San Fran since joining the Dodgers midway through the 2010 campaign, and LA has lost all four. Lilly's ERA in those games is a batting practice-esque 6.86.
Zito's excellent start to the 2012 season was jerked back into reality his last time out when he couldn't get through the fourth inning vs. Miami while burning through 91 offerings and walking seven. He's been stellar away from San Fran in three assignments, allowing just three earned runs 22 innings.
San Francisco is just 1-6 in Zito's last seven battles with the Dodgers despite his ERA below 3.00 in those games, and 0-3 in his last three starts in Los Angeles.