Every MLB team seems to have two or three regular season series that end up defining their season. Those games can happen early in a season or during the final week; they can be played against really good teams or teams going nowhere.
In reality, these season-defining match-ups are almost always clearly identified only after the season ends. Of course that doesn't stop the endless declarations that dozens of Giant series and games are "critically important" throughout the season.
Broadcasters are paid to hype every series ("they're all critical...") and fans tend to focus on certain teams-- has there ever been a Dodgers series that Giant fans didn't feel was extremely important?
But I think the importance of these kinds of games and series are really about the state of your team. What's happening with the roster, is the team climbing, wallowing, or falling in the standings. Are expectations being met or are systemic failures beginning to pile up.
For the San Francisco Giants I think this weekend's three game series with the Colorado Rockies could be one of the most important series of the first half of the season for a number of reasons strictly about the Giants:
> the Giants just lost starter Ryan Vogelsong for the equivalent of half a season;
> they seem to be stuck in a first place mudpile with Arizona and Colorado and can't create any separation;
> reliever Santiago Casilla just went on the DL and the Giants' bullpen is not the same without him;
> the jury is still out on just what Tim Lincecum is bringing to the table this year, and this is also a demonstration year for Barry Zito, who faces a potential team buyout option after October.
On the positive side, the Giants are second in the Majors in home wins at 17-8 (the Pirates have won 18 home games), and Colorado pitchers have often seen their ERAs inflate by the inning when taking the mound at AT&T Park. Add to that Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence are simply smacking the bejesus out of the ball.
Lincecum and Zito will pitch, respectively, tonight and Saturday with Matt Cain throwing the finale on Sunday. Three starters with a lot on the line and a team with significant injury issues.
In the middle of it all, an excellent opportunity to pull out the defibrillator paddles and jump some much-needed life into this 2013 season.
Note: I will add brief analysis and comments here after each of the Colorado games this weekend.
Game 1 - SFG vs COL Friday 5/24/13 -- COL 5 SFG 0
Three things defined this lackluster performance by the Giants:
1. Tim Lincecum gave up 4 earned runs in 7 innings. That's a 5.12 ERA, so forget the 8 strikeouts because they really didn't matter in this game.
2. Colorado had 3 RBIs with 2 out; the Giants went 0-4 with runners in scoring position (RISP).
3. Giants' left fielder Gregor Blanco went 1 for 4 (a single with 2 out in the 2nd inning).
Left field has to be a run-producing position for San Francisco and it has not been all year long. Blanco and Andres Torres are killing the offense.
Whenever your left fielder is batting 7th in the line-up (strike 1), and his one hit is a single (strike 2), with none on and two outs (strike 3) = you are f--ked.
On competitive MLB teams, the left fielder is batting 3-4-5 in the line-up and the offense doesn't stop after the #6 hitter. Like it does with the Giants.
Game 2 - SFG vs COL Saturday 5/25/13