Buster Posey

Despite dropping series to Cardinals, Giants head to L.A. with confidence

Yesterday’s game was a snoozer, and today’s 7-5 loss was frustrating for a variety of reasons, some of which we’ll get to in a bit. But the Giants are on their way to Los Angeles as I write this story, with a chance to make everything — all the losses to the top teams in the NL Central, all the personnel losses — fade away with a series win over a team they’ve gone 9-3 against this season.

“Hopefully this team is going down there with a sense of confidence. We know how good (the Dodgers) are,” said Bruce Bochy.

“(Our players), they’re battle-tested. We look forward to it and I’m sure (the Dodgers) do. There’s some good matchups in this series. It’s going to be exciting times. You’re fortunate this time of year to be where you’re at. I know we’re not where we want to be, but you’re still in the hunt. So there’s hope that we’ll get rolling here, get some guys healthy and find a way. That’s all we’re thinking about, just find a way to get it done.”

The matchups won’t be easy, with the Giants facing Brett Anderson, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. But the Giants are sending their top three starters against the Dodgers: Jake Peavy, Madison Bumgarner and Mike Leake.

After the much-anticipated series against their rivals, the Giants face some questions about who’ll pitch in Colorado. Ryan Vogelsong will take his next turn on Thursday, but Chris Heston is probably not a trustworthy option for Friday’s game at Coors.

Heston was awful today in his first game back after almost two weeks off. He blamed it on leaving the ball up, which was especially damaging early in this game when the ball was carrying ridiculously well to all fields. Throw in the fact that the Giants sent him to Sacramento for a reason (Bochy wouldn’t call it a “demotion” before the game, but the Giants would’ve kept him in the rotation if they thought he’d turn it around without a break), and his 9.82 ERA in two Coors Field starts, and the Giants have to be weighing their options. Bochy was in no mood to name a starter for Friday’s game, however.

“I can’t answer that now. We talk to the players. Rags and I will talk and see what we think is the best matchup, best guy out there. These are things we will talk about. It’s going to be up to our starting pitching to come through for us.”

The Giants will add Tim Hudson on Sept. 1, when rosters expand. But don’t discount Yusmeiro Petit as a potential starter, despite the Giants’ reluctance to take him out of that “long man” role up to this point.

After an inconsistent first half of the season, Petit has been outstanding since the All-Star break: 2.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 25 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

However, the time for looking ahead is over. Starting with Peavy, the starters will need to perform better than Heston on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and they’re hoping to get Brandon Crawford back for tomorrow night’s game. He surely would’ve helped today, as the middle of the order went off (Brandon Belt went 4-for-4, Buster Posey went 3-for-4, and Marlon Byrd went 3-for-4 with four RBIs), but other than Nori Aoki (2-for-5), the rest of the squad went 0-for-20 with no walks.

Ehire Adrianza has been awful. He’s hitting .177, and while his arm has never been special, he’s usually a lot more sure-handed than he’s shown since Crawford injured his side earlier in the week. Matt Duffy was part of the offensive problem today, grounding into two double plays, but he’s been part of the solution far more often for the Giants this season.

Duffy noted that there’s a sense of urgency — which one would expect at this time of the year — heading into this series, but cautioned that the Giants’ previous success against the Dodgers this season doesn’t guarantee anything.

“I think it gives you confidence. But at the same time, we’re a different team, they’re a different team,” Duffy said. “The past doesn’t dictate what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Extra BASGs

— The Giants have to be happy that they’re done with the NL Central. Well, besides a home series against the Reds, but that’s nothing like facing the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates all month.

— Marlon Byrd has 14 RBIs. Casey McGehee had 11 RBIs in 49 games with the Giants. Byrd played his ninth game with the Giants today.

— Byrd hit a liner that Brandon Moss caught in the third — if that gets by him, Byrd would’ve probably had two more runs batted in and a 4-for-4 day.

— You knew things weren’t going to end well when three consecutive Giants took called third strikes. It started when Gregor Blanco let a changeup go right down the middle to end the eighth inning with Byrd on third. Byrd didn’t score a run in this game.

— If there’s one thing that has to make the Giants feel a little more confident, Posey’s bat is coming back to life. He hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 3, but 12 of his 16 dingers have come on the road.

— Some fan in front of the press box chanted “Posey’s better” when Jason Heyward was at the plate, which gave me flashbacks to 2010. No one else joined him in the chant, and Heyward went 3-for-5.

— Speaking of trending topics from 2010, today was not a “Happy Tim Lincecum Day,” as Andrew Baggarly reported before today’s game that the “wildly popular little gymnast” suffered a setback. It’s not really all that surprising, but it’s still sad to know that we almost certainly won’t get a goodbye appearance on the mound by Lincecum at AT&T Park. We’ll see if his career continues after this season.

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