No Melky? No problem so far for the Giants. Since the 2012 All-Star Game MVP was suspended for a positive PED test, the Giants are 5-2 and have opened a 2.5-game lead in the NL West; they have won eight of their last 11 games.
The Giants added three new faces since they last faced the Braves, trading for Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro right before the July 31 deadline and claiming lefty reliever Jose Mijares off waivers in early August. Scutaro, in 25 games with his new team, has hit .337 with 18 RBI and has struck out a grand total of six times. Conversely, Pence is hitting just .193 in 21 games with the Giants, striking out 22 times. Scutaro isn't the only Giants hitter with a hot bat. Angel Pagan has hits in 10 of his last 11 games, hitting .375 in that stretch with five multi-hit games among his last six and Joaquin Arias has nine hits in his last 16 at-bats.
But let's not forget he who was out! Buster Posey has been the hottest Giants hitter this month, hitting .375 and slugging .719 with 18 RBI in August. He was unavailable for Wednesday's game with a sore hamstring muscle, so whether or not he plays will depend on the severity of the injury.
The Braves will see Tim Lincecum for the first time this year and he has been trying to salvage what has been an ugly year for him. His walk rate (10.2%) is the highest since his rookie year, his strikeout rate (23.2%) is the lowest of his career and has already given up as many home runs as he did all of last year. However, Lincecum has put up more respectable numbers since the All-Star Break, posting a 3.10 ERA in his last eight starts with 47 strikeouts.
Since the Break, San Francisco's best starter has been Madison Bumgarner. He's held hitters to a .174 average with 61 strikeouts in 56 innings, leading the team with a 1.93 ERA. In August, he's only walked three in 30 innings with a 1.55 ERA. While Bumgarner has been their best pitcher this month, Ryan Vogelsong has been hit hard. Still among the top 10 in the NL in ERA, Vogelsong has given up 15 runs in four August starts, 11 of them over his last two.
Atlanta will miss Matt Cain again but will not avoid Barry Zito, who seems to give the Braves fits despite what his overall season stats may say. This would be his first start against Atlanta in San Francisco.
San Francisco's bullpen is squarely in the middle of the NL with a 3.75 ERA. Sergio Romo continues to be the most effective reliever for the Giants with a 2.13 ERA, setting up for Santiago Casilla and his 24 saves and 3.20 ERA. Romo has struck out 10 in just 6.2 innings in August.
Pitching matchups after the jump.
Thursday, August 23, 10:15 p.m. ET
#48 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Aug 28, 1986
|2012 - Tommy Hanson||12-5||23||23||0||0||0||0||132.2||135||66||63||20||56||119||4.27||1.44|
#75 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
May 13, 1978
|2012 - Barry Zito||9-8||24||24||1||1||0||0||138.1||135||74||68||18||58||79||4.42||1.40|
Friday, August 24, 10:15 p.m. ET
#30 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 18, 1978
|2012 - Ben Sheets||4-3||7||7||0||0||0||0||44.0||43||17||15||6||10||31||3.07||1.20|
#32 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
Jul 22, 1977
|2012 - Ryan Vogelsong||10-7||23||23||0||0||0||0||148.2||128||49||47||10||51||117||2.85||1.20|
Saturday, August 25, 4:05 p.m. ET
#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Dec 26, 1987
|2012 - Mike Minor||6-10||23||23||0||0||0||0||136.2||127||78||72||24||46||109||4.74||1.27|
#40 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
Aug 01, 1989
|2012 - Madison Bumgarner||14-7||25||25||2||1||0||0||171.2||138||60||54||18||32||160||2.83||0.99|
Sunday, August 26, 8:00 p.m. ET
#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 14, 1975
|2012 - Tim Hudson||12-4||21||21||1||1||0||0||134.0||124||59||55||9||39||82||3.69||1.22|
#55 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants
Jun 15, 1984
|2012 - Tim Lincecum||7-13||26||26||0||0||0||0||146.0||150||89||86||15||66||151||5.30||1.48|