October 11, 2010
Monday LDS Projection
Now that the divisional series are concluding or reaching that point, these previews may feel a bit lighter. The Yankees took care of business over the weekend, sweeping the Twins and advancing to the American League Championship Series. The Rangers appeared to be heading towards the ALCS, too, but the Rays quashed their hopes of making things easy by taking both games in Arlington. Home field advantage simply hasn’t existed in that series, and Tuesday night will feature a fifth game with a redux of the starting pitching matchup from Game One between David Price and Cliff Lee. The Phillies used a dominating performance by Cole Hamels to sweep the Reds in the National League, and will head back home to wait out the eventual victor of the only series being played Monday: Giants-Braves.
The teams split the first two games in San Francisco. In Game One, Tim Lincecum struck out 14 hitters en route to a complete game shutout and a 1-0 victory. The next night, Rick Ankiel crushed a home run into McCovey Cove in the top of the 11th inning to put the Braves ahead 5-4, capping a comeback all the way from a 4-0 deficit to win. Sunday, Jonathan Sanchez surrendered two hits in his 7 1/3 innings, one to Tim Hudson and another to Alex Gonzalez, before he was removed in the eighth. Sergio Romo came in and Eric Hinske greeted him with a go-ahead two-run homer. Of course, the Braves lead was short-lived, as in the top of the ninth Brooks Conrad committed what felt like his 100th error of the last two weeks on a fairly routine one-hopper off the bat of Buster Posey. The ball scooted through his wickets to cap a two-run rally and the Giants won 3-2.
Monday night, the Giants will dip into their depth and look to advance behind the strong left arm of Madison Bumgarner. The Braves will counter with Derek Lowe, who threw very well in the first game of the series, albeit nowhere near as good as Lincecum. Matt Swartz has this specific pitching matchup covered in today’s pitching preview, but let’s see how Monday's lone game looks through the eye of the all powerful
Giants (Madison Bumgarner) at Braves (Derek Lowe)
Projected Runs Scored: Braves 4.33, Giants 3.78
Projected Odds of Winning: Braves 56.12 percent, Giants 43.88 percent
Giants vs. Derek Lowe
Braves vs. Madison Bumgarner
We made some roster presumptions for this game, primarily that Mike Fontenot would start in place of Pablo Sandoval once again and that, finally, Bobby Cox is going to end the Conrad experiment by playing Troy Glaus at third and Omar Infante at second. It’s a shame that Conrad, a 30-year old rookie, could be remembered for his shoddy defensive play, but the Braves really can’t base their decisions on feelings from now on, and it isn’t as if he is so superb of a hitter that he must stay in the lineup or else the Braves run the risk of not scoring. Conrad is an OK bat that would work well in the lineup if he wasn’t a liability defensively, but not nearly talented enough with the stick to ensure a starting spot when the defensive play erodes. Then again, Glaus shouldn’t be expected to be a defensive wizard at the hot corner, either, but perhaps the Braves feel this represents the lesser of two evils.
Should the Braves knot the series up, Game Five would pit Lincecum against Tommy Hanson on Wednesday night in San Francisco, which goes to show the importance of Game Three. A win Sunday would have put the Braves up 2-1 at home with a potential advantage in the starting pitching matchup. Now, should they win, they “get” to face one of the best pitchers in the sport on his home field. Does this series end tonight?