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Full Preview, Predictions for 2014's First Dodgers-Giants Rivalry Clash

Jason MartinezContributor IApril 4, 2014

Full Preview, Predictions for 2014's First Dodgers-Giants Rivalry Clash

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    Matt Kemp is expected back from the disabled list on Friday.
    Matt Kemp is expected back from the disabled list on Friday.Harry How/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants will square off this weekend in what will be the first of six series matchups between the longtime rivals.

    While the Giants got the best of the Dodgers in 2013, winning 11 of 19 games, it was only a small consolation considering how their season was in the tank by late July. Meanwhile, after a terrible start the Dodgers were the best team in baseball over the final 90 games of the regular season. 

    From June 22 on, the Dodgers were 22.5 games better than the defending World Series champs. They cruised to a division title and their first playoff appearance since 2009. The Giants, on the other hand, finished with their first losing season since 2008.

    These teams appear to be heading in opposite directions. This will be San Francisco's first chance to prove that they haven't fallen too far from the MLB throne.

    Winning three of four games on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks was a nice start. Taking two of three from the Dodgers would show the baseball world that they're still a force to be reckoned with.

    Of course, a three-game sweep by the Dodgers would show that they're still the team to beat in the division, despite the loss of ace starter Clayton Kershaw for at least the next several weeks with a back injury. 

    Here's a look at the upcoming matchups and predictions for each of the three games. 

     

Game 1: Vogelsong vs. Ryu

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    Rick Rycroft

    Hyun-jin Ryu (pictured) has already started the Dodgers' second game (March 23 versus the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia) and third game (March 30 at San Diego) of the season. Now he'll look to extend his 12-inning scoreless streak when he takes the hill for the Dodgers' home opener.

    The 27-year-old left-hander will get a break with Marco Scutaro (5-for-12 career against Ryu), who is on the disabled list with a back injury, out of the lineup. But Angel Pagan (4-for-6), Hunter Pence (6-for-14, 2 2B) and Pablo Sandoval (4-for-13, 2B) all had success against Ryu last season, while Buster Posey (3-for-13, 2B vs. Ryu) is always a threat against any pitcher and is off to a strong start in 2014.

    Opposing Ryu on the mound for the Giants will be Ryan Vogelsong, who is trying to bounce back from an awful 2013 season in which he posted a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. The 19 earned runs and 33 hits allowed in 19 innings pitched this spring isn't a good sign that he's back on track. 

    Matt Kemp, who is expected to return from the disabled list after an offseason recovering from shoulder and ankle surgeries, is 6-for-20 with a homer and triple against the 36-year-old Vogelsong. A.J. Ellis (4-for-16, HR, 5 BB), Andre Ethier (4-for-16, 2 2B), Dee Gordon (6-for-18) and Juan Uribe (5-for-16) have also done damage against him, although Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez are a combined 1-for-21. 

    Projected SF Lineup vs. Ryu
    1 Angel Pagan, CF
    2 Hunter Pence, RF
    3 Pablo Sandoval, 3B
    4 Buster Posey, C
    5 Michael Morse, LF
    6 Brandon Belt, 1B
    7 Joaquin Arias, 2B
    8 Brandon Crawford, SS 

    Projected LAD Lineup vs. Vogelsong
    1 Carl Crawford, LF
    2 Yasiel Puig, RF
    3 Hanley Ramirez, SS
    4 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
    5 Andre Ethier, CF
    6 Juan Uribe, 3B
    7 A.J. Ellis, C
    8 Dee Gordon, 2B

     
    Prediction: Ryu's scoreless streak will end early, as the Giants will jump out to a 2-0 lead before he settles in and enters cruise control for the next several innings. Vogelsong will keep the Dodgers in check for the first three innings, but he won't get through the heart of the order—Puig, Ramirez and Gonzalez—a second time without a ball leaving the yard.

    Gonzalez will start the fireworks with his first homer of the season on a fourth-inning blast. By the time Vogelsong exits in the top of the fifth, the Dodgers will be ahead 6-2 and Ramirez will have also connected for his first long ball of the season. 

    They'll add an insurance run in the sixth and head into the seventh inning with a 7-2 lead. The loss of setup man Brian Wilson, who is on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his elbow, will expose the Dodgers' late-inning relief crew as they make things interesting after Ryu's six strong innings.

    By the time closer Kenley Jansen takes the mound in the ninth, the Giants will have cut the lead to 7-5 on a two-run double by Posey and an RBI single by Morse. Jansen is lights-out, though, and closes the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including a strikeout of pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez to end the game.   

Game 2: Bumgarner vs. Maholm

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    Gregory Bull

    As lopsided a pitching matchup as Ryu-Vogelsong appeared to be in Game 1, Madison Bumgarner (pictured) vs. Paul Maholm in Game 2 might be even more of a mismatch. This one favors the Giants, though, which is why they'll need to take advantage. 

    Giants hitters have feasted off of the 31-year-old Maholm, with only Michael Morse (2-for-11, 5 K) posting subpar numbers against him. Hunter Pence (15-for-49, 2 HR, 4 2B, 3B), Angel Pagan (7-for-24, HR, 2 2B), Buster Posey (3-for-7, 2 2B) and Pablo Sandoval (5-for-13, HR, 2B) could be licking their chops at the prospect of facing Maholm a day after trying to figure out Ryu. 

    Bumgarner, who allowed four unearned runs on six hits in four innings during the team's Opening Day win against the D'Backs, will be trying to bounce back against a lineup that hasn't been able to figure him out. 

    Juan Uribe and Yasiel Puig have each homered against the 24-year-old, as did backup catcher Tim Federowicz, who could get the start over A.J. Ellis (1-for-10, 2B). Expect Andre Ethier (3-for-24, 9 K) to sit along with Carl Crawford (0-for-3) in favor of right-handed hitter Scott Van Slyke and Matt Kemp, who will be making his first start of 2014.

     

    Projected SF Lineup vs. Maholm
    1 Angel Pagan, CF
    2 Hunter Pence, RF
    3 Pablo Sandoval, 3B
    4 Buster Posey, C
    5 Michael Morse, LF
    6 Brandon Belt, 1B
    7 Joaquin Arias, 2B
    8 Brandon Crawford, SS 

    Projected LAD Lineup vs. Bumgarner
    1 Yasiel Puig, RF
    2 Matt Kemp, CF
    3 Hanley Ramirez, SS
    4 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
    5 Juan Uribe, 3B
    6 Scott Van Slyke, LF
    7 Justin Turner, 2B
    8 Tim Federowicz, C

     
    Prediction: Bumgarner only had a handful of bad starts in 2013. He never had two in a row. While Puig will launch a mammoth solo homer against him in the sixth inning, the Giants ace will give his team eight strong innings to give his bullpen a rest. 

    Puig's homer will be meaningless since the Giants will have already put up nine runs off of Maholm, Jose Dominguez and Brandon League en route to an 11-1 victory to even up the series at one apiece.

    Sandoval will have a big day with a homer, double and three runs batted in, while Morse will notch his first homer with the Giants. 

Game 3: Cain vs. Greinke

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    A nationally televised game on Sunday evening will feature Matt Cain and Zack Greinke, two former aces who have each taken a back seat to a talented young lefty on their staff. Both pitchers will be in the spotlight here, though, as they try to lead their teams to the series victory.

    On paper, the matchup heavily favors the Dodgers. Take out the injured Marco Scutaro, who is 9-for-23 lifetime against Greinke, and the Giants are a combined 10-for-46 against him. Hunter Pence is 2-for-10 with a homer, while Michael Morse is 1-for-5 with a homer. 

    Dodgers hitters, on the other hand, have hit Cain hard. He'll want to be careful with two hitters in particular: Adrian Gonzalez (pictured) is 20-for-69 with four homers and four doubles, and Andre Ethier is 30-for-68 with a homer and four doubles. 

     

    Projected SF Lineup vs. Greinke
    1 Angel Pagan, CF
    2 Gregor Blanco, LF
    3 Brandon Belt, 1B
    4 Pablo Sandoval, 3B
    5 Hunter Pence, RF
    6 Hector Sanchez, C
    7 Brandon Crawford, SS
    8 Ehire Adrianza, 2B 

    Projected LAD Lineup vs. Cain
    1 Carl Crawford, LF
    2 Yasiel Puig, RF
    3 Hanley Ramirez, SS
    4 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
    5 Andre Ethier, CF
    6 Juan Uribe, 3B
    7 A.J. Ellis, C
    8 Dee Gordon, 2B

     
    Prediction: As predictable as it sounds, Adrian Gonzalez will star in this game and continue to own Cain with two homers and five runs batted in. After coming close to hitting the ball out of cavernous Petco Park on at least three occasions during the series against the Padres, the 31-year-old will finally break out in this series. 

    While Gonzalez's homers have not come in bunches as they did when he was with the Padres, this weekend series with the Giants will be an exception. 

    The Giants' bats won't go quietly, though. Although Cain will be on the ropes, he'll battle for five innings, allow six runs and depart with a 6-3 deficit thanks to some clutch hitting from the bottom of the order. A two-run single by Sanchez and sacrifice fly by Brandon Crawford will cut the lead in half, and they'll have a chance late against the Dodgers' bullpen. 

    After chipping away for single runs in the seventh and eighth innings off J.P. Howell and Chris Perez, the Giants will have a chance to finish the comeback in the ninth. With runners on first and second and two outs, pinch-hitter Buster Posey will deliver a double to the right-center field gap off closer Kenley Jansen. Belt will score from second to tie it up, but Puig will deliver a strike to his cut-off man Dee Gordon, who will throw out Sandoval at the plate for the third out. 

    Leading off the bottom of the ninth against Santiago Casilla, Puig will deliver a dramatic 440-foot walk-off homer to end the game.  

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