Game One: Modesto Nuts (Sullivan) v. San Jose Giants (Fitzgerald) Saturday 9/11 6:00 PM PT
Game Two: Modesto Nuts (Hollingsworth) v. San Jose Giants (Marte) Sunday 9/12 5:00 PM PT
Game Three: San Jose Giants (Woodruff) v. Modesto Nuts (Durst) Monday 9/13 7:05 PM PT
Game Four (if necessary): San Jose Giants (Odle) v. Modesto Nuts (Scahill) Tuesday 9/14 7:05 PM PT
Game Five (if necessary): Modesto Nuts (Nicasio) v. San Jose Giants (TBA) Wednesday 9/15 7:00 PM PT
Radio Broadcast: 970 AM (Modesto, games 2-5), www.modestonuts.com, www.sjgiants.com and www.milb.com
TV Broadcast: CHN (San Jose, games 1-2 and 5, if necessary)
Modesto's pitching dominated Stockton as the Nuts easily advanced to this round to face the Giants. They'll compete on the field for the next few days, but without San Jose, Modesto might not have been in the playoffs in the first place. The Giants won three games out of four in a series with Visalia to finish the year, and that along with Modesto's late rally propelled the Nuts into the postseason. The day off didn't affect Modesto's momentum, and their eight game winning streak has them in a position to advance to the Cal League Championship for the first time since 2004.
San Jose's great record in the first half put them in this position, but the second half was a different story. The Giants were 14 games worse in the second half, and their 31-39 record was tied for second worst in the league. They've righted the ship recently, but they're still not the dangerous team they were before the break. Francisco Peguero ended the season on a 20 game hitting streak, the longest of any San Jose player this season. His bat and speed at the top of the lineup has been key in the Giants' turnaround late in the half, and obviously that will need to continue to beat Modesto.
This next table includes Modesto's two playoff games.
Here's a table of head to head results. The two rows at the bottom cover home and away splits for the matchup.
How will Modesto win?
The head to head chart says it all. For whatever reason, Modesto has just done a good job against San Jose this year. Also for whatever reason, there was a pretty large discrepancy between home games between Municipal Stadium and John Thurman Field, but that's neither here nor there. Modesto is not only 6-1 against San Jose in the second half and 11-4 against them in San Jose. Of course the Giants were 6-2 in Modesto, but those games were all early in the season. The Nuts were the only North division team to have a winning record against the Giants this year.
The Nuts' starting staff also has to keep pitching well. They did a great job against Stockton last round, but Rob Scahill and Juan Nicasio aren't scheduled to pitch until games four and five if the series even gets that far. At this point, Ethan Hollingsworth in game two is the least of their concerns, but I think games one and three are questions. Josh Sullivan has been inconsistent, and his control hasn't been great lately. His one start against San Jose this year was one of his worst appearances with Modesto in 2010. Kenny Durst will be making his first start since 7/19 in game three, and he pitched his most effective innings out of the bullpen.
How will San Jose win?
The Giants' lineup needs to keep hitting well. They've scored five or more runs in eight of their last 10 games and won six games in that span. They have not had that success against Modesto in their seven second half meetings, averaging only three runs per game. As I mentioned earlier, the catalyst recently has been Francisco Peguero. His approach at the plate is still almost as if he's trying to not walk, but the ball is in play and finding holes. Peguero has four three-hit games in September and five multi hit games total. Juan Perez is also returning to first half form after struggling in July.
The rotation has to be a lot better. Over the last 21 games, their rotation has an ERA of 5.42, and even if the rehab start by Chris Ray is taken out, it's still not good. Justin Fitzgerald has been a rock in the rotation, but his fellow All-Stars Craig Westcott and Eric Surkamp are gone. A number of pitchers have tried, but the Giants haven't been able to replace those two yet. Kyle Woodruff has been solid since moving from the bullpen to the rotation but another former reliever, Oliver Odle, has gotten hit hard in the second half. Someone needs to step up because Fitzgerald can't pitch all five games.