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Series Preview: Cardinals at Giants July 1-3

Oscar Taveras! and some other Cardinals take on the Giants in beautiful San Francisco. Here's a look at the series.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

  • Marco Gonzales makes his second career start tonight at 9:15 (all times central). Tim Lincecum, fresh off a no-hitter, takes the mound for the Giants.
  • Adam Wainwright and Ryan Vogelsong are scheduled for game two tomorrow at 9:15.
  • Carlos Martinez and Madison Bumgarner will pitch game three Thursday at 2:45.

On June 8, the Giants were 21 games over .500 and had a 9.5 game lead on the Dodgers. Today they are 10 games over .500 and a half game back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Cardinals fans should look at the Giants for a reminder of how much can change how quickly in the MLB standings landscape. The Cardinals enter the series 6.5 games back of the Brewers, half of a game up on the Reds, and just a game and a half in front of the Pirates. They are well within striking distance of the Brewers, especially with a series against them looming just prior to the All-Star Break, but a three-week swoon could knock them all but out of contention.

About the Giants

This is one miserable 10-games-over-.500 team. SBN's McCovey Chronicles will tell you all about it.

All of that when they're ten games over .500. It has not been a good month.

But I wonder how much has really  changed since they were one of the best teams in baseball and taking 3 of 4 from the Cardinals in St Louis as May turned to June. Here is the preview to that series, most of which still seems on target:

Then and Now
Then Now
Michael Morse 150 wRC+ 136 wRC+
Hunter Pence 136 wRC+ 136 wRC+
Angel Pagan 132 wRC+ 122 wRC+
Brandon Crawford 1.0 fWAR 1.6 fWAR
Brandon Hicks 93 wRC+ 80 wRC+
Pablo Sandoval 97 wRC+ 105 wRC+
Grego Blanco 68 wRC+ 80 wRC+
Buster Posey 103 wRC+ 124 wRC+
Matt Cain 3.66 ERA 4.00 xFIP 4.38 ERA 4.06 xFIP
Madison Bumgarner 3.15 ERA. 2.99 xFIP 2.90 ERA 2.94 xFIP
Tim Hudson 1.92 ERA 3.10 xFIP 2.59 ERA 3.33 xFIP
Tim Lincecum 4.18 ERA 3.54 xFIP 4.42 ERA 3.65 xFIP
Ryan Vogelsong 3.20 ERA 4.11 xFIP 3.96 ERA 3.96 xFIP
Sergio Romo struggles looked fluky struggles make one wonder if he's done
Jean Machi 0.35 ERA 2.64 xFIP 1.36 ERA 3.00 xFIP
Jeremy Affeldt 2.51 xFIP 1.98 ERA 2.92 xFIP

The once wonderful and now terrible Sergio Romo was recently deposed from his role of closer, but other than that, doesn't it look like the same old Giants? A few guys have been good this month, a few have been bad, yet their team results have been terrible. The slide doesn't make much sense, but then again, the roster looks a whole lot more like a ten-games over at the break sort of team than a twenty. So there you go.

Anyway, blooming Brandon Belt is still out with his broken thumb and is not expected back for this series, but he's doing legendary things in his rehab assignment and will be back soon. Michael Morse has subbed in very well at first-base, but Belt's return will allow Morse to move back to the outfield and strengthen the line-up a bit.

About the Cardinals

Oscar Taveras will be in the line-up and Carlos Martinez will be starting a game. It's all I've ever wanted.

It's a fascinating spot the Cardinals are in. The season itself seems to stand on some sort of tipping point, but it's not clear what's on either side of said point. If they play well over these last couple of weeks before the break, does it make them more or less likely to buy a key piece? And what if they play poorly, or, more likely, continue along in a mediocre manner? The division and the wild-card each look to be both attainable and challenging. Does an aging core fuel desire to push hard this year? Has recent success added pressure? Does it alleviate the pressure any?

Against this backdrop, we get to watch exciting careers begin while we wait to hear more news about a potentially chronic injury to our future rotation stalwart. What of Wacha's shoulder?

And what of:

Waino's elbow?

Lynn's blister?

Kelly's hamstring?

Shelby's everything?

Can the Oscar-Mayo show resuscitate the offense?

Will El Gallo be really great or the greatest?

Right now, this season is full of questions, and there's not much we can do except watch and talk about it. It'll be entertaining to see regardless, hopefully in a Disney sort of way and not a Game of Thrones sort of way.

Key to the Series: