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Braves vs. Giants Series Preview: Some Serious Wildcard Implications In Atlanta

The defending world series champions make their way to Atlanta for the first time since last season's NLDS. Who has the advantage this time around?

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The last time the San Francisco Giants were on the field at Turner Field were some of the saddest moments of my sports life. It was the final time Bobby Cox would manage a game, and despite a roster depleted with injuries, the team still battled each and every night and nearly won the series. 

It's time for payback.

This Atlanta Braves team is not the one the Giants faced last October. Nearly everyone is healthy, the team is firing on all cylinders despite dropping their last two against the Cubs, and they have their eyes set on revenge. The Giants have been struggling in recent weeks, and it will be the Braves job to insure those losing ways continue this week in Atlanta.

Let's take a closer look at the Giants, who Atlanta leads by four games in the wild card standings...

Lose weight, play great:

Pablo Sandoval

#48 / Third Base / San Francisco Giants

5-11

240

B

R

Aug 11, 1986

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Pablo Sandoval 79 300 39 93 18 1 14 44 22 46 2 1 .310 .352 .517

Pablo Sandoval has turned his career around. All it took was about fifty pounds. The "Kung Fu Panda" was looking at a short-lived baseball career before getting into great shape this past off-season and he was seen immediate results. The third baseman is having a big year for San Francisco on a team that has consistently struggled to score runs and he can do a lot of damage to a baseball if his bat gets a hold of one.

An injured acquisition:


Carlos Beltran

#15 / Right Field / San Francisco Giants

6-1

215

B

R

Apr 24, 1977

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Carlos Beltran 11 45 4 11 1 2 0 2 1 11 0 0 .244 .261 .356

On paper, Carlos Beltran was a near-perfect fit for San Francisco. He was a corner outfielder capable of both hitting for power and bringing speed on the base paths -- two things the club desperately needed -- and could re-sign with the team after the season. 

Things haven't quite worked out so far. In just eleven games he has failed expectations and he has missed a week after injuring his wrist. No word on if Beltran will return during this series or not, but let's try and keep his bat cool should he return.

Pitching matchups (hint: they're going to be good):

Monday, 7:10EDT - Tim Hudson vs. Madison Bumgarner

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Hudson 12-7 24 24 1 1 0 0 155.2 132 62 55 10 38 113 3.18 1.09
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Madison Bumgarner 7-11 26 24 0 0 0 0 145.1 149 64 57 7 33 134 3.53 1.25

Tuesday, 7:10EDT - Randall Delgado vs. Jonathan Sanchez

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Randall Delgado 0-1 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.0 7 4 3 1 2 2 6.75 2.25
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jonathan Sanchez 4-7 18 18 0 0 0 0 98.2 79 53 47 9 65 102 4.29 1.46

Wednesday, 7:10EDT - Jair Jurrjens vs. Matt Cain


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jair Jurrjens 12-4 20 20 2 1 0 0 133.2 118 41 39 11 35 85 2.63 1.14
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Matt Cain 9-9 27 25 1 0 0 0 165.0 138 61 55 7 44 134 3.00 1.10

Thursday, 7:10EDT - Derek Lowe (TBD) vs. Tim Lincecum

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Derek Lowe 7-11 26 26 0 0 0 0 145.1 163 81 79 9 53 101 4.89 1.49
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Lincecum 11-9 25 25 1 1 0 0 164.0 126 53 47 9 63 175 2.58 1.15

Series outlook:

It may just be August, but this is a huge series. The Braves have a somewhat comfortable lead of four games in the wildcard standings. A series win is an absolute must for Atlanta. 

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.