Buster Posey and the Giants are on the road in Los Angeles this weekend.
Less than a week ago it would have been dumb to talk about the San Francisco Giants reaching the playoffs, considering the sorry state of their pitching staff.
The San Francisco rotation, from B (Madison Bumgarner) to Z (Barry Zito) was horrible in August, with the possible exception of Matt Cain. But it looks like that light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t a train after all.
Lincecum became the fourth straight hurler to notch a quality start on Wednesday, helping the Giants take two of three from the Colorado Rockies at home.
San Francisco now embarks on a 10-game trip to Los Angeles, Arizona and San Diego. The Giants play 16 of their next 22 on the road, where they are just 32-33 and 10-13 against division competition. They have posted losing records in each of their past two road trips, going 2-4 on both.
San Francisco has many positives to dwell on as they head to Dodger Stadium on Friday for a Labor Day weekend showdown. The Giants have moved four games ahead of Colorado and, aided by the Padres’ seven-game losing streak, made up 3 ½ games on the division leader during the last seven days of a 5-4 homestand.
Los Angeles just lost two of three to the Phillies to drop 7 ½-games off the pace in the NL wild-card chase with 28 games remaining. The Dodgers have been reduced to the role of spoilers, and what better team to play that role against than the Giants?
Los Angeles has enjoyed its greatest success this year within the division, with a 30-18 mark, though it is only 6-6 against San Francisco.
The Giants call on Zito (8-10, 4.07) in the series opener, hoping his phone is back on the hook after four straight rocky outings.
Zito has worked a season-low 3 2/3 innings in his past two starts, allowing a combined 14 runs (12 earned). San Francisco can only hope that now that September has rolled around, things will change for the veteran southpaw. Zito has a 25-14 career record during the month.
Zito and Chad Billingsley (10-8, 3.73) will be matching pitches for the fourth time this season.
Billingsley hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since July 11, and has gone fewer than six innings just once during that stretch, however he failed to register a strikeout for just the second time in his career last Saturday at Coors Field and his five walks were a season high.
Zito has a loss and three no-decisions against the Dodgers this season despite allowing just six earned runs over 27 2/3 innings and limiting them to a .200 batting average.
Billingsley has a win and two no-decisions in his three starts against Zito and the Giants, while yielding two earned runs and 12 hits in 21 2/3 innings. San Francisco has batted .167 against the Dodgers right-hander.
The Dodgers have lost five of Billingsley’s last six starts, but won five of his last six at home against the Giants.
Seven of the last 10 meetings in Los Angeles have ended on the high side, though seven of the last 10 overall have strayed ‘under’ the MLB odds number.
San Francisco has dipped below the number in seven of its past 10 division tests and the ‘under’ is 8-0-3 in Zito’s last 11 outings against the Dodgers. Los Angeles has slipped ‘under’ in Billingsley’s last seven starts against NL-West rivals.