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Gameday Thread, #125: 8/21 vs. Giants

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Livan Hernandez, RHP (10-9, 5.36)
Noah Lowry, LHP (5-7, 4.21)

A crucial series for Arizona, and this opening game could turn out to be pivotal in it. We have Webb going tomorrow, so fingers crossed he'll return to his best form. However, we must then face Schmidt in the finale, who has certainly come back to acelike levels lately, and already owned us anyway. So winning this first contest is important, but thus far, the performances of Hernandez v2.0 have largely been disappointing: 21 hits in 14.2 innings, though he has come away with a 1-1 record. Last time, he had a 15-3 ground-out/air-out ratio, easily the highest of the season - only once previously has he been at more than +4. Be interesting to see if that is maintained tonight.

The Giants send up Lowry, who hasn't won a game in more than a month, but has given them three quality starts in five outings. He does throw a lot of pitches - 120 or more in four July/August starts - and word is the Giants might be more cautious with him in September. The Giants bullpen has come back a bit from its earlier problems, and is now not that much worse than ours (4.57 vs. 4.42). Hitting-wise, SF has the second-lowest batting average in the League (.259) and their OPS is 14th-best (.742), in part because Bonds is still nowhere near the potent threat he used to be. That should help Hernandez keep them in check.

Neither team is likely to smack the ball out of the park, but that's the modus operandi in the NL West this year, where all five teams rank in the bottom seven of the league for homer hitting. Three-quarters of the way through the season, AZ's top slugger is our leadoff man, Eric Byrnes (19); Pedro Feliz leads the Giants with 20. Indeed, no-one in the entire division is on pace even to hit thirty HR this year: Matt Holliday (22) leads all teams. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the league, Howard, Soriano and maybe Dunn are looking towards fifty...