The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost six of their last seven, their offense has sputtered with the dominant Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, and their lead in the NL West has shrunk to just three games. With the Giants sending out a struggling Barry Zito against a consistently good Eovaldi, the first game of the series will be a key for both teams.
With momentum currently favoring the Giants, a Zito win could extend the Dodger’s downward spiral and send them reeling, maybe even closing the lead down to just one game. Additionally, it would get Zito back on the right track as the pennant race begins to heat up.
Putting even more pressure on the Dodgers would be huge for the Giants. Starting off the series with a win will build momentum for both the pitching staff and the offense. If Zito can continue to stymie the Dodger’s offense with Eovaldi on the mound, the Giants will be in great shape for the rest of the series.
Eovaldi and Zito have opposite resumes over their last few starts. Though Eovaldi is 0-3, he has given up three runs or fewer in all five of his starts. Zito, on the other hand, has struggled of late. After starting out 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA, Zito has dropped his last three decisions. He has given up 17 runs in his last 14.1 innings.
Buster Posey, who has been hot, will get the day off on Monday. The Giants offense will need to find power from other sources. Hector Sanchez usually gets the nod with Zito on the mound. Brandon Belt had finally found his stroke before going 0-for-3 in the series finale against the A’s. Before that game he had hit .441 with four home runs and 12 RBI during his 11-game hit streak.
Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum will pitch the second and third games, respectively. The Dodgers are fortunate to miss both Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, the Giant’s two most threatening hurlers.