MLB Insiders - San Francisco Giants

Zach Duke

The Pirates open a three game series with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at PNC Park. Lefty Zach Duke will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Giants will toss lefty Jonathan Sanchez.

Coming off a loss in their fifth straight one-run contest, the Giants look to bounce back in the opener of a three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

The Giants turn to Jonathan Sanchez (2-1, 3.48 ERA), who will be looking to win his third straight decision Tuesday. San Francisco is 5-1 this season when Sanchez starts.

The left-hander, in his first full season as a starter, allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings but didn't factor in the decision of a 3-2 victory over Colorado on Wednesday. Sanchez has a 36.00 ERA in two relief appearances against the Pirates.

Pittsburgh will counter with Zachary Duke (0-2, 4.79), who has dropped his last two decisions.

Duke was solid in his last outing, however, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings, but did not receive a decision in Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss at Washington on Thursday. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA in three starts versus the Giants.

The Giants will face a left-hander on Tuesday, the Pirates' Duke, the second of six straight games in which the opposing starting pitcher is left-handed.

That's good news for veteran Rich Aurilia, who's considered by many in the industry as a journeyman utility player, at best. But in recent days, Aurilia swung a hot bat and earned more playing time. Sunday, for the first time in his career, he had three extra-base hits.

It's not so good news for lefty-swinging John Bowker, the rookie outfielder-turned-first baseman who had four hits Friday but otherwise has been slumping since his first week in the majors.

Also, left fielder Fred Lewis has played predominately against right-handers even though he has been the team's most consistent hitter in recent weeks from the leadoff spot.

It'll be a drastic change for the Giants, who faced just five starting lefties in their first 30 games. The Giants are 4-2 in games against lefty starters.

On Sunday, the Giants faced lefty Cole Hamels. For the next three games in Pittsburgh, the Giants will face lefties. Plus, they will face lefties the first two weekend games against the Phillies in San Francisco.

--SS Emmanuel Burriss knocked over Phillies C Carlos Ruiz for the Giants' first run Sunday. It was a play not seen on the Giants in recent years, mostly because the team has been mostly station-to-station and hadn't taken risks that would have allowed for a home-plate collision. In any event, Burriss earned respect from teammates.

--LHP Barry Zito, if he returns to the rotation May 10 -- the next time the team needs another starter (it's currently using a four-man rotation) -- then it's unlikely he'd be available for relief beyond Tuesday or Wednesday. Zito, since being demoted to the bullpen early last week, has not made an appearance in a game.

--3B Jose Castillo has six errors this season (a .920 fielding percentage), a significant drop-off defensively for the Giants from last year, when Pedro Feliz manned the hot corner and made 11 errors total for a .973 fielding percentage. Feliz will return to San Francisco this weekend with his new team, the Phillies.

--LHP Jonathan Sanchez will start Tuesday's series opener in Pittsburgh. Sanchez has been a nice surprise in the rotation, going 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA with a couple of double-digit strikeout games. He cracked the season-opening rotation because LHP Noah Lowry opened on the DL. In his last start, Sanchez went 5 2/3 innings in the Giants' 3-2 win over Colorado.

--C Bengie Molina, the cleanup hitter, leads the Giants in both homers (four) and RBIs (19). He's hitting .296 -- .333 with runners in scoring position, nine hits in 27 at-bats.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0.52 -- Tim Lincecum's road ERA, lowest in the NL. Overall, it's 1.73.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good time to take a good, hard look at how I've approached things and evaluate it. Sometimes in life, you have to make a change and adjustments. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you're stubborn." -- Pitcher Barry Zito, who opened the season 0-6 and was demoted to the bullpen. Recommended Stories

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