Things to Know about the San Francisco Giants

The Mets close out the first half in San Francisco with a three game set against the Giants. Here are some things you might want to know about them:

Record: 50-39, 1st place NL West
Manager: Bruce Bochy, lifetime 1,323-1,339 managerial record (.497). Despite the Giants’ struggle to score runs, Bochy doesn’t go overboard with small ball strategies.
Park: AT&T Park. Slight pitcher’s park, with a big brick wall in right center that turns home runs into doubles and triples for lefthanded hitters.

Quickly…
Can they hit? Nope
Can they pitch? Oh yeah.
Can they field? Yup
Who’s their best player? Tim Lincecum, who the Mets will face for the second time this season on Saturday.

Lineup:
CF – Andres Torres – S
SS – Miguel Tejada – R
3B – Pablo Sandoval – S
LF – Pat Burrell – R
1B – Aubry Huff – L
RF – Nate Schierholtz – L
2B – Bill Hall – R
C – Eli Whiteside – R

Well, they hit a lot of doubles. Eight Giants have double digit double totals, and they’re second in the NL in two-base hits. But that’s the extent of their offensive prowess. San Francisco is simply not a good hitting team, particularly without Buster Posey in the middle of the lineup. The Giants are 15th in the National League in runs scored, 13th in on-base percentage, and 14th in slugging percentage. They don’t hit home runs and they don’t draw walks, and it’s hard to score runs if you don’t do either of those things. Manager Bruce Bochy has tried mixing and matching between the injuries and poor play, essentially using a five man rotation in the outfield and even starting Miguel Tejada at second base for the first time in his career this week. But here’s how bad it’s been for the Giants: They picked up Bill Hall to play second base in lieu of Freddy Sanchez a month ago . . . after Hall was released by the Houston Astros, baseball’s worst team. Hall has hit .158/.220/.211 in his 16 games with the Giants.

The one bright spot has been Pablo Sandoval, who leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage, and is tied for the lead in home runs despite missing a few weeks with a broken hand.

Pitching Matchups:
7/8: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (6-1, 2.13 ERA) vs RHP R.A. Dickey

Vogelsong is certainly the most unlikely All-Star. Having last pitched in the majors in 2006, the righthander from Pennsylvania stepped into Giants’ rotation when Barry Zito went on the DL in April. Vogelsong allowed 2 runs in 5.2 innings in his first start in seven years, then surrendered five runs in four innings against the Mets on May 3rd. But since then, Vogelsong has a 1.67 ERA over 11 starts, holding opposing hitters to a .584 OPS in that period. Barry Zito has since returned, but Jonathan Sanchez hit the DL at the same time, allowing Vogelsong to hold onto his rotation spot for the moment. Fastball/cutter pitcher with a mid-70s curveball and changeup.

7/9: RHP Tim Lincecum (6-7, 3.14 ERA) vs LHP Chris Capuano

Lincecum is fourth in the NL in strikeouts, second in strikeouts per nine innings rate, and 13th in ERA, but the Giants are just 10-8 in his starts because they only score 3.3 runs per game for him. Somehow, that’s not even the worst rate on the staff: Madison Bumgarner gets just 2.7 runs per game in support. As the Mets saw earlier in the season, Lincecum has moved away from his curveball a bit, using a slider instead and relying on his changeup as his swing and miss pitch.

7/10: RHP Matt Cain (7-5, 3.22 ERA) vs RHP Mike Pelfrey

Cain might be in the middle of his best season yet. He has posted a career high strikeout-to-walk ratio while cutting down on his home run rate, and still generates a ton of easily caught fly balls. His season batting average against on balls in play (BABIP) is sitting at .268, which would be alarming for fantasy team owners if his career BABIP wasn’t .266. Some pitchers do induce a lot of harmless contact, and Cain is one of them.

The Mets miss the two lefties, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito.

Bench:
C – Chris Stewart – R
IF – Emmanuel Burriss – S
SS – Brandon Crawford – L
OF – Cody Ross – R
OF – Aaron Rowand – R

This isn’t really a list of subs, as Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand have both played a lot this season — one figures they’re in the lineup against the lefty Capuano on Saturday – and Brandon Crawford isn’t a bench players as much as “that young guy they’re playing Miguel Tejada over for some reason.”

Bullpen:
RHP – Brian Wilson
LHP – Javier Lopez
RHP – Sergio Romo
LHP – Jeremy Affeldt
RHP – Ramon Ramirez
RHP – Santiago Casilla
RHP – Guillermo Mota

Coming into today, the Giants are 11 games over .500 despite scoring just nine more runs than they’ve allowed — that’s tough to do, and these relievers are a big reason why. The Giants have the third best bullpen by ERA and FIP, and second best by xFIP. Little beard, Sergio Romo, has 41 strikeouts against 4 walks and a 2.20 ERA, while big beard, Brian Wilson, has surrendered just one home run all season and has a 2.81 ERA. Basically, Guillermo Mota is the only dude here having a less than stellar season, having surrendered seven home runs already. All other Giants relievers have surrendered nine. If there’s a weekend to be pro-bunt, this might be it.

Also, this happened last week:

But don’t worry! The water cooler was okay:

And those are some things to know about the San Francisco Giants.

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