Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 4.15) vs. Matt Cain (13-4, 2.51).
DODGERS MAGIC NUMBER: 20
COMMENTS: It's crunch time, Cap'n! I mean, not for the playoffs; we're in already, I'm not worried at all. But the question for this series is whether we can match Cain / Sanchez / Penny with Kuroda / Padilla / Billingsley; a series win would basically throttle the life out of the Giants' post-season quest. Getting past Cain in the series opener won't be easy; with his 2.51 ERA (3rd in the NL) and 146 strikeouts (16th in the NL), I'm sure he's got a special K or two saved just for us.
Kuroda hasn't had a ton of lucky charms this season, what with the oblique problem early on and the frightening concussion on August 15. But I'm betting on a smart start out of Hiroki. But what we'll really need, early and often from our lineup, is a return of the (honey) smacks and (apple) jacks that the bats of Manny Ramirez, James Loney, and Rafael Furcal are starting to see restored.
The Giants don't score many runs (they are 27th in the majors in RS with 556), but it's their MLB-leading runs against (the Dodgers are second) that have them kept them viable for postseason play. If we can pierce that armor, particularly against Cain (who has one win in his last eight starts), we'll be in total control, and we'll rip the heart out of the Giants' lineup, starting with the ever-fortified Pablo Sandoval.
Hmm. Kung Fu Panda? Crunch time? I know just the remedy. Let's hope the Dodgers comply.