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Series Preview: Pirates @ Giants

Gerrit Cole will look for his eighth win of the season in the opener of a three game set against the Giants. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Gerrit Cole will look for his eighth win of the season in the opener of a three game set against the Giants.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports



The Pirates come into AT&T Park with a 26-24 record, good enough for third place in the Central. The Bucs are seven games back of the first place Cards but just one game behind Cinncinatti. San Fran comes into the three game set at 30-22, holding down the second place spot in the NL West behind the Dodgers. 

It'll be important for the Pirates to keep on clicking against a solid San Francisco ball club. Hopefully the offense can continue to provide the run support the pitching staff needs. In this series the Pirates will need to get to the Giants starters early, this is not a team where you want to "get to the pen", because that thing is solid. The Giants pen looks like the Royals of last year and the season before, its air tight. Casilla comes into the series with 15 saves and his partner in crime Sergio Romo has held in all 15 of them. With a team ERA of 3.71 the Giants are going to pitch it. This will be a quality test for a Pirates offense that his been pretty hot the last two weeks. Unfortunately, one of my favorites, the reinvented Tim Lincecum (sideways hat, short hair and all) won't be on the hill in this series. 

Offensively, the Giants are led by Nori Aoki, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey. Aoki leads the team in average at .309 and has 60 hits on the year. Crawford has driven in 34 runs while Posey has provided what pop he has with 8 homeruns. San Fran has put up just 87 runs at home, it's not an offense that is going to blow you away but the team fights like they always have and their 30 wins prove that. 

Your Buccos certainly have the edge as far as the starting pitching goes. WIth Cole Train, AJ, and Frankie, the Pirates should be able to get three quality starts in the series. Combine that with an offense that's starting to click and the fact that Clint may have found the best lineup to run out there, I give the Bucs the edge in this one. Gerrit Cole will look for win number 8 on the bump to start the series with a 2.11 ERA coming into things. Let's see if AJ can continue what could be an All Star campaign, he will start in game two. Frank the Tank toes it in game three coming off of two starts as an absolute strikeout machine. 

Cutch and Marte lead the team offensively, at least statisically. 22 leads the team in average (because of # of qualifiying at bats) with a .275 mark. Marte has driven in 34 with 10 HR. Polanco seems to be seeing the ball later, he was able to send a few out at Petco and seems to have beaten the April, May, the whole season blues. The lineup that Hurdle has been running out there seems to be working. I like JHay in that leadoff spot as he has no trouble getting on and is hitting .409 in his last 15 games. Unfortunately for Jordy Mercer the lineup doesn't save a spot for him, but Kang is more than getting the job done so let it ride. Cutch comes into the series batting .378 in his last 23 games, along with that the catching duo of Cervelli/Stewart have combined for a .379 average in the Bucs last 18 games. Neil Walker has hit safely in his last seven games on the road, hopefully he can extend that to ten. 

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Cole, G (7-2, 2.11 ERA) vs. Vogelsong, R (4-2, 4.24 ERA)

Game 2: Burnett (5-1, 1.81 ERA) vs. Heston (5-3, 3.82 ERA)

Game 3: Liriano, F (2-4, 3.47 ERA) vs. Hudson, T (3-4, 4.62 ERA)

LINEUP: MON. JUNE 1ST // 10:15 P.M.