Fan’s Preview: Will Giants’ Pablo Sandoval Return to Starting Lineup Make a Difference Against the Nationals?

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Prior to the start of the series, the San Francisco Giants activated Pablo Sandoval from the disabled list and optioned Brett Pill back to Triple-A Fresno. While he did make an appearance in the ninth inning of Monday's game, Sandoval is expected to start the final two games of the series against the Washington Nationals. After allowing the Nationals to score a season-high 14 runs in a blowout victory, the Giants will seek help from Sandoval for a win on Tuesday.

Prior to injuring himself on July 24, Sandoval was having a solid season for the Giants. Often manning the No. 3 or No. 5 spots in the lineup, he'll now be a part of a lineup featuring newly-acquired Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro, one of the hottest hitters in the majors in Buster Posey, and other very good hitters in Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. With Sandoval's return, this game will most likely feature the primary lineup used for most games and give the team an early view of how well they can hit for the rest of the season.

The Giants have a difficult matchup on Tuesday, as with any Nationals pitcher they face, in NL Cy Young candidate Jordan Zimmermann. Following Ryan Vogelsong's rough outing in the first game of the series, Zimmermann now owns the league's best ERA among eligible starters and has a 1.60 ERA since June 22, the best in all of baseball. As for Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, he had his worst outing of the season against the Nationals by allowing a season-worst seven runs and nine hits in five innings.

Matchup:

The San Francisco Giants will host the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park located in San Francisco, CA on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 7:15 p.m. PT. This will be the second game in a three-game series.

Season series:

Nationals lead series 4-0.

Standings:

Washington comes into the matchup with a 72-44 record and in first place in the National League East. They are 40-22 when playing on the road and have won nine of their last 10 games.

San Francisco enters the game with a 63-53 record and in first place in the National League West. They are 34-25 when playing at home and have won six of their last 10 games.

Starting pitcher matchup:

Washington: Jordan Zimmermann

2012 season: 9-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 110 Ks

Numbers vs. Giants in last five years: 3-1, 3.19 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 29 Ks

San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner

2012 season: 12-7, 3.08 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 144 Ks

Numbers vs. Nationals in last five years: 1-2, 4.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 20 Ks

Where to watch and listen to the game:

The game can be watched live locally at the following:

In Washington: MASN 2 HD, 106.7 The Fan, WHFS 1580, and WFED 1500

In San Francisco: CSN-BA HD, KNBR 680, and KTRB 860

Pitching statistic leaders:

Washington: Gio Gonzalez - 15 wins, Sean Burnett - 1.81 ERA, Stephen Strasburg - 166 strikeouts.

San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner - 12 wins, Sergio Romo - 2.00 ERA, Matt Cain - 148 strikeouts.

Sources:

Bumgarner hoping to contain Nationals, MLB.com

Nationals-Giants Preview, AP

Giants activate Sandoval, option Pill to Triple A, AP

More from this contributor:

Giants Start Series Against Best Second-Half Team in Baseball in Nationals: Fan's Preview

Fan's Preview: Have the San Francisco Giants Turned Around Their Offensive Struggles at Home?

Matt Cain Faces Rockies in Hopes of Turning Around Second Half of Season: Fan's Preview

Giants' Tim Lincecum and Rockies' Tyler Chatwood face off again at AT&T Park: Fan's Preview

Giants Hand Cardinals Worst Shutout Loss in Busch Stadium III History, Look to Cap Successful Road Trip: Fan's Preview

Austin Chang is a lifelong San Francisco Bay Area native, baseball fan, and supporter of the San Francisco Giants. Follow this Featured Contributor on Google+ and Twitter @_austinchang.

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