San Francisco Giants Continue Easy Stretch of Schedule Against Chicago Cubs: Fan’s Preview

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Especially this late in the season, the San Francisco Giants definitely got a favorable schedule for the end of August and beginning of September. With the team exclusively facing NL West teams at the conclusion of this series, this will be the Giants last chance to make gains in the standings facing teams outside of their division. Struggling to sweep the Houston Astros, the Giants will face the Chicago Cubs for three games before returning to AT&T Park and NL West competition on Labor Day.

The Cubs, owners of the second-worst record in the majors ahead of the Astros, will hopefully be an easier NL Central team to defeat. Despite clearly having a more-talented team with more to play for, the Giants had to come back from behind throughout the series to get their three wins and come to Chicago with a season-high 4 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier in the season, the Giants struggled offensively in their four-game sweep over the Cubs, scoring just a total of 11 runs at AT&T Park.

Since June, a lot has changed for the Giants. Their offense has improved, particularly with the contributions from Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, and Marco Scutaro. Madison Bumgarner, Friday's pitcher, has been excellent since the All-Star break (2.31 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in nine starts). The team is on a roll, winning 10 of their last 13 games.

With just a couple games left before the September stretch against the NL West, the Giants look to do their best to extend their lead against inferior non-division opponents.

Matchup:

The San Francisco Giants will visit the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field located in Chicago, IL on Friday, August 30, 2012 at 11:20 a.m. PT. This will be the first game in a three-game series.

Season series:

Giants lead season series 4-0.

Standings:

San Francisco comes into the matchup with a 74-57 record and in first place in the National League West. They are 37-29 when playing on the road and have won eight of their last 10 games.

Chicago enters the game with a 50-80 record and in fifth place in the National League Central. They are 33-32 when playing at home and have won three of their last 10 games.

Starting pitcher matchup:

San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner

2012 season: 14-8, 2.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 165 Ks

Career numbers vs. Cubs: 3-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 40 Ks

Chicago: Chris Volstad

2012 season: 1-9, 6.28 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 44 Ks

Career numbers vs. Giants: 1-2, 2.67 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 24 Ks

Where to watch and listen to the game:

The game can be watched and heard live locally at the following:

In San Francisco: CSN-BA HD & KNBR 680

In Chicago: CSN & WGN 720

Lineups:

San Francisco: CF Angel Pagan, 2B Marco Scutaro, 3B Pablo Sandoval, C Buster Posey, RF Hunter Pence, 1B Brandon Belt, SS Joaquin Arias, LF Gregor Blanco, P Madison Bumgarner

Chicago: RF Joe Mather, 3B Josh Vitters, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Starlin Castro, C Welington Castillo, CF Brett Jackson, 2B Darwin Barney, P Chris Volstad

Sources:

Bumgarner leads Giants into Chicago to battle Cubs, MLB.com

Giants-Cubs Preview, AP

Giants lineup: Arias gets start against righty, CSN Bay Area

Madison Bumgarner 2012 Split Stats, Yahoo! Sports

More from this contributor:

Fan's Take: Should San Francisco Giants Give Joaquin Arias More Playing Time?

Fan's Preview: Will Ryan Vogelsong Return to Form for Giants' Sweep of Astros?

San Francisco Giants Bring Back Guillermo Mota Following 100-Game Suspension: Fan's Preview

Giants' Matt Cain Looks for First Career Win at Minute Maid Park: Fan's Preview

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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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