One more series before the All-Star break.
The last time the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals played, less than a month ago, one of the weirder series that I can remember witnessing took place. The Giants had scored 5.7 runs per contest over the six games prior to the series. They would go on to average 8.1 runs per contest in the nine games that followed the series.
But in the four-game series in the nation’s capital, the Giants mustered a measly three runs, total. One of those runs was the extra innings ghost runner, so it was really as though they only scored two runs.
That happens. Good offensive teams have icy cold patches. No concern. Nothing to see there other than ugly at bats.
The weird part was that the Giants still split the four-game series.
They won’t split this series, because it’s only three games. Hopefully they can score more than a run per day though.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:45 p.m.), Saturday (1:05 p.m.), and Sunday (1:05 p.m.)
National broadcasts: None
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 54-32, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +106, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 1-game winning streak, 4-6 in their last 10 games
Record: 42-44, T-3rd in the NL East
Run differential: -5, 9th in the NL
Postseason standing: 4.5 games out of the division, 8 games out of the Wild Card
Momentum: 1-game losing streak, 4-6 in their last 10 games
Season series: Tied 2-2
Three Giants to watch
Alex Dickerson: I don’t think Dickerson’s job is in jeopardy just yet. He was too good in 2019 and 2020. But we’ve certainly reached the point where the Giants need to see something from him, especially if Steven Duggar and LaMonte Wade Jr. keep hitting. Dickerson is nearly 200 plate appearances into a season where he’s hitting comfortably below league average (91 OPS+, 95 wRC+), despite being heavily platooned — he only has 15 plate appearances all season against left-handed pitchers. The Giants still trust him, as evidenced by the fact that he’s been hitting cleanup lately. The Nats are using righties in the first two games of the series, so hopefully Dick can put one in the water.
Logan Webb: Webb is returning to the rotation for Friday’s series opener, and my goodness will it be nice to see him, especially since Sammy Long has been placed on the IL. We haven’t seen Webb since he was pitching beautifully against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 29, but he’s been one of the Giants best pitchers this year. Welcome back.
Curt Casali: With Buster Posey’s thumb contusion still operating as something of an unknown, it seems likely that we’ll see another healthy dose of Casali this series. After an awful start to the season, Casali has found his groove: in his last 13 games he’s hitting 13-33 with 7 extra-base hits, good for a 1.217 OPS. Keep it going, pal.
Three Nats to watch
Jon Lester: Lester was initially scheduled to pitch the series finale when these teams faced in June, and I put him on this list in that preview. But then he didn’t pitch. He’s scheduled to pitch this finale again, so it only seemed fair to include him again, even if the outcome might end up being the same. Lester is not having a good year. He has a 5.34 ERA and a 5.73 FIP, and he’s striking out just 6.1 batters per nine innings. He’s given up at least five runs in each of his last three starts. In other words: opportunity.
Juan Soto: Soto is really good and really fun to watch and has drawn more walks this year than he’s had strikeouts, which is a remarkable stat for a hitter who led the Majors in slugging percentage a year ago.
Paolo Espino: Espino is throwing it back to a different era of pitching. The righty is limiting contact, having allowed just 30 hits and 37 total baserunners in 40 innings, which has helped him sport a 2.48 ERA. But he’s also struck out just 28 batters this year. The Giants should be able to put the ball in play over and over again against Espino — let’s see if they can do anything with it.