Though they are one of the NL’s worst teams, the San Francisco Giants have a chance to pull off an extremely impressive feat.
In the series opener, the Giants handed Andy Pettitte his first loss in seven weeks and Jason Schmidt threw eight strong innings in a 4-0 victory. On Saturday, Noah Lowry gave up only one hit in seven innings as San Francisco beat 14-game winner Roy Oswalt in a 5-2 win.
“We faced two good pitchers the last two days and did pretty well,” first baseman J.T. Snow said. “We got good pitching. It all starts on the mound.”
Clemens goes into this matchup having won his last three starts, surrendering three runs and striking out 22 in 20 innings despite an ailing back. The major league leader with a 1.45 ERA, Clemens has given up one earned run or fewer in eight of his last 10 outings.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner has faced the Giants three times and won them all, posting a 1.17 ERA—his lowest against any opponent. Clemens allowed one run in his lone outing against San Francisco this year, striking out 10 over seven innings in a 4-1 victory on May 14.
“He has so many pitches that you have to figure out. He throws splits, sliders, curves, fastballs in and out, he throws everything,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said after that loss.
Alou’s recent comments about San Francisco radio host Larry Krueger were less flattering.
He called a one-week suspension given to Krueger “a slap on the hand”, and wouldn’t accept an apology from the man who went off about the struggling club and its “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.”
“He came to apologize to me? You have to be kidding me,” Alou said Saturday, one day after the suspension. “There’s no way to apologize for such a sin.”
Since Krueger made the comments, the Giants have won three straight to record their longest winning streak since a four-game run from June 28-July 1. Saturday’s win gave San Francisco its first home series victory since late May.
The Astros, meanwhile, have dropped three straight. They had lost just two of their previous 17 games to take control of the wild-card race, but now their lead has been cut to a game over Washington.
San Francisco’s pitchers have limited Houston to seven hits—only one for extra bases—in this series.
“If they keep getting pitching like that, they’re going to win a lot of games,” Astros manager Phil Garner said.