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Game #49 Preview: Houston Astros Playing for Santa Fe as they Host Giants

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Here’s all you need to know for tonight’s game between the Astros and Giants

San Francisco Giants  v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Astros (30-18) vs. San Francisco Giants (24-24), May 22, 2018, 7:10 PM CDT

TV: AT&T SportsNet-SW

Radio: KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM

Online: MLB.TV

Giants SBNation Blog: McCovey Chronicles

Tonight, your 30-18 Astros open up against the Giants of San Francisco for a two game inter-league series. It’s a big night for Houston vs Bay Area rivalries, as just an hour after first pitch, the Houston Rockets will tip off against the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals.

I could get over the Rockets losing Game Four. I wouldn’t lose sleep over the Astros losing a random May game to the Giants. But both on the same night? Unacceptable. Tonight, the Astros have Gerrit Cole, the Giants are without some key players, and Houston is a -270 favorite on the night. Get it done.

Giants Offense

After a nightmarish 2017, the Giants went into the off-season with an aggressive mindset to get back into playoff contention. San Fransisco added veterans Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria through trade and signed outfielder Austin Jackson and lefty reliever Tony Watson in free agency. While neither McCutchen or Longoria are the stars they once were, both are providing the Giants solid value - McCutchen owns a 114 wRC+ on the season, while Longoria’s currently sits at 104.

Veteran first baseman Brandon Belt has led the Giants offense this season, batting .313/.413/.594 for 11 homers and a studly 176 wRC+. Long-time Giants catcher Buster Posey has been consistent as ever, batting .306/.380/.431 on the year for a 129 wRC+.

Pitching Matchup

RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.75 ERA, 13.57 K/9) vs LHP Andrew Suarez (1-3, 4.88 ERA, 9.11 K/9)

Tonight the Astros will be facing rookie lefty Andrew Suarez. Despite the high ERA, Suarez has looked surprisingly good in a small sample size, and the peripherals, advanced stats, and projection models all paint a fairly bullish outlook on him.

Suarez has never been one of those prospect with insane tools that immediately catch the eye, but he has good command, a nice repertoire, and is very competitive. His slider and curveball have been his two most devastating offerings on the season, as both have elicited sub 50 wRC+’s.

Today’s Lineups

San Francisco Giants Houston Astros
San Francisco Giants Houston Astros
Gorkys Hernandez - LF George Springer - RF
Andrew McCutchen - RF Alex Bregman - 3B
Buster Posey - C Jose Altuve - 2B
Brandon Belt - 1B Carlos Correa - SS
Evan Longoria - 3B Yuli Gurriel - 1B
Brandon Crawford - SS J.D. Davis - LF
Pablo Sandoval - DH Evan Gattis - DH
Austin Jackson - CF Max Stassi - C
Kelby Tomlinson - 2B Tony Kemp - CF
Andrew Suarez - LHP Gerrit Cole - RHP

Matchup to Watch: J.D. Davis vs Andrew Suarez

With all the offensive struggles and nagging injuries, young prospect J.D. Davis is forced into the left field spot tonight for the Astros. Davis has not yet started a major league game in the outfield, so it will be interesting to see if he can adjust to his defensive position without any drop off in offensive production.

At AAA Fresno, Davis absolutely raked against left-handed pitching. In 18 at-bats, Davis recorded 10 hits, 3 home runs, and 2 walks while posting a slash line of .556/.619/1.222. Of course, Davis’ production against left-handed pitching at the major league level is not as great but still, the numbers from this minor league stint are very encouraging for tonight’s game.

Although it’s a small sample size, Giants LHP Andrew Suarez has seen a drastic difference in his splits against right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. Against right-handed hitters like J.D. Davis, Suarez has allowed a slash line of .338/.373/.634 while surrendering six home runs. However, against left-handed batters, the opponent slash line against Suarez is at a meager .176/.200/.294. This certainly must have something to do with why Astros manager A.J. Hinch started only one left-handed hitter in tonight’s lineup.