COMMENTARY | There's an old adage in baseball that says wins in April are just as important as wins in September, and I've always found it to be pretty self-explanatory. If a team can jump out to a fast start early on in the season, there's a good chance it'll make things a little easier on itself later in the year.
For the San Francisco Giants, it's even more important to get off to a good start. The defending world champions have a target on their collective backs. Teams want to prove themselves against the best and send a message that they're contenders, and what better team to do that against than the Giants?
With that in mind, here's a look at the series that stand out on the Giants' schedule for the rest of April:
April 11-14, at Chicago Cubs
This has all the makings of a trap series. The Giants are going to be heavy favorites here, and anything less than winning three out of four is going to be considered a disappointment. The Cubs have been playing reasonably well (better than most expected, probably) and could provide more of a challenge than most Giants fans might expect. Another challenge: The weather is going to be terrible, and that's always tough for a West Coast team to navigate, even one that plays in foggy San Francisco.
It's going to be a good, early road test for the Giants. They should win this series, but the potential is there for disappointment.
April 19-21, vs. San Diego Padres
The Padres are a pesky team that always seem to play the Giants tough. They're the weakest team in the division thus far, though, and the Giants will have a chance to pad their 5-1 record versus the NL West early on.
Unfortunately, for the Giants, Chase Headley may be back from injury by the time the Padres come to AT&T Park. The Padres' best hitter hasn't played yet this season, and the Giants would be thrilled if he needed a little more time to get into playing shape. Games with the Padres are never easy, but if the Giants hope to win the division again they'll have to get fat against teams like San Diego. This will be their first chance.
April 22-24, vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-Backs are neck-and-neck with the Giants in the NL West standings, and the two teams will likely still be close by the time this series rolls around. Arizona revamped its team over the winter and has played well early on, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the D-Backs hanging around the top of the division throughout the summer.
It'll be important for the Giants to try and distance themselves from the D-Backs, starting with this series. It also marks the return of 2010 postseason hero Cody Ross to AT&T Park.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who has written about the Giants for the better part of a decade. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. You can find him on Twitter @gggiants.
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