By Michelle Dingley
Following a short three-day respite, the Giants will again face the Houston Astros. It’s now the Giants’ turn to play host, after the Astros took the three-game series in Texas last weekend. The Giants dropped the first two games to the worst team in the majors, but they won game 3 with some late-inning heroics. Game one of the four-game series will air on Thursday at 7:00 pm on CW31.
Former Giants farmhand Henry Sosa will start game 1 for the Astros. Acquired by Houston in the Jeff Keppinger trade, Sosa has made three big-league starts and is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA. He will be working on short rest after starting on Sunday. Sosa gave up 4 hits and 4 runs over 5 innings and did not earn a decision, but he outlasted the Giants’ starter. Dan Runzler, making a spot start for the injured Jonathan Sanchez, was pulled after just 1 2/3 innings, surrendering 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. The Giants eventually won the game, thanks to an 11th-inning, two-run homer off the bat of Pablo Sandoval.
Facing off against Sosa and the Astros will be Ryan Vogelsong. Vogey has a 10-3 record with a 2.47 ERA this season. Usually our most reliable starter, Vogey has struggled a bit recently. He is 2-2 in the month of August, with a 3.51 ERA. Interestingly, in all three of Vogelsong’s losses, the Giants have been shut out. His first loss was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Marlins on May 26, the day after Buster Posey’s season-ending injury. His second loss was to the Pirates on August 8, in one of his weakest starts this year. He gave up 5 runs over 5 innings of work. Vogelsong’s third loss was on August 19 to the Astros. Again, Vogey received no run support, but it was the defense that lost the game. Two errors were recorded against the Giants. If it wasn’t for a generous awarding of a single by the official scorer, they would have had three errors. Vogey gave up 5 runs, but only 2 earned, over 7 innings. The Giants lost by a final score of 6-0.
A long and arduous road trip, the Giants took just 4 of 10 while losing five players to the DL and six others missing playing time due to injuries. The team had a much-needed day off on Monday before a quick two-game series against the Padres. On Tuesday, the Giants played another messy game, getting charged with three errors. One runner reached on a missed call by the first base umpire, ruled an error on Matt Cain. The runner scored when the next batter hit a home run. The Giants rallied back against an early deficit, tying the game at 5 in the bottom of the eighth. They gave the lead right back in the top of the ninth, and the bats were quiet in the final frame for a 7-5 Padres victory.
Wednesday’s game looked a lot more like Giants baseball should look. Tim Lincecum didn’t always hit the strike zone, but he worked out of some trouble, only allowing one run over 8 innings. Carlos Beltran was back in the lineup and hit his first home run as a Giant. Brandon Belt smashed his first career triple, and he was driven in, instead of stranded at third. The Giants made no errors and won 2-1, allowing the team to go into the Astros series on a high note.
The Astros have been playing much better ball as of late, now that their games mean essentially nothing. Their lineup is stocked with Double-A and Triple-A call-ups, with the majority of their good, major league-proven players already traded to contending teams. These minor-leaguers play with the enthusiasm that the injured and depleted Giants’ lineup has been lacking. The Giants have been scuffling for weeks. They have been struggling to stay close to the Diamondbacks in the West. The Astros don’t need to win this series. The Giants do. But that will hardly stop the Astros from doing their best to beat the defending World Champs. The Giants need to play clean baseball, shore up their defense, and score some runs. They need to get back at the worst team in MLB, win some games, and gain ground against the D-backs. The action begins Thursday at 7:00 pm on CW31.