The Nationals come on after having split a four-game series to the San Diego Padres this past weekend. The Nationals won the first two game of the series, but then went on to lose the last two games. The three-game set against the Giants represents that last of a 10-game California swing for the Nationals, who have gone 3-4 so far and are 23-21 in the overall record.
Aside from yesterday’s game where Dan Haren has struggled, the Nationals starting pitching has performed well on this road trip, as they have kept the team in every game with an opportunity to win each of the first six. For the Nationals, the starting pitchers for this series will be Zach Duke, who is throwing tonight, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. Duke is filling in a spot start role for an injured Ross Detwiler.
While the starters have carried their weight, the offense has not. In the last nine games, the offense has scored two or fewer runs in five of those nine games and has batted a collective .211 while the team is 3-6 during the stretch.
While the Nationals offense has struggled, the Giants starting pitching has gone through a rough patch themselves. On the most recent six-game road trip, Giants starters posted a 9.82 ERA and allowing at least five runs in each game with the team posting a 1-5 record.
Tonight’s starter for the Giants, Ryan Vogelsong, gave up eight runs, three of those earned, in two innings of work last Wednesday in a 11-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. After Vogelsong, the Giants have Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner scheduled to pitch in games two and three of the series. For a team that is built on having quality pitching, the recent struggles of the starters make it tough to win.
On the bright side, two of the Giants most important hitters are on a hot streak. Marco Scutaro is currently on a 17-game hitting streak in which he is batting .486 during the streak, and Buster Posey is batting .340 with 12 RBI’s in the last 15 games.
The Nationals and Giants are two teams that, in many ways, mirror each other with the starting pitching staffs serving as the foundation for their respective success. While the Nationals’ starters have been performing up to their billing, their offense has let them down to date.
For the Giants, their starters have let them down lately, but have last year’s World Series title run as a reminder that this is just a temporary struggle that they will overcome. The three-game set starting tonight will be one where both teams will look to end losing streaks and establish consistency as the MLB season enters the second quarter of the 2013 season.