Game 3 NLDS Preview
Now, with the series knotted at 1 game apiece, the ever so important game 3 takes place at Turner Field on Sunday evening as Jonathan Sanchez goes up against Tim Hudson. This is the one pitching match-up that favors the Braves in this series, so the Giants are going to need Sanchez to be on in order for him to keep pace with playoff-grizzled Hudson. Still, this pitching match-up should be a dandy. Sanchez has been nearly untouchable at times over his last 7 starts ( 44.2 IP, 0.11 era, 23 hits, 48 k's) but Hudson has that experience, and was tremendous in 2010, sporting a 17-9 record with a 2.83 era in 228 innings after missing most of '09 and much of '08. Of course, the key with Sanchez will be to keep the ball in the zone and get ahead of hitters. His last start basically showed his abilities in a nutshell, 5 shutout innings with 5 k's and 2 hits, but had to leave after just 5 innings cause he walked 5 batters. The Braves have a patient, professional hitting team that will not chase Sanchez's pitches out of the zone, so they'll make him throw strikes... For the Giants hitters, they have to approach Huddy much like they did Derek Lowe in game 1. Hudson's a sinker-baller and wants the Giants to beat the ball into the ground, so they have to make him get the ball up. Many of the Giants hitters haven't had much success vs. Hudson in the past, with the best success coming from Rowand (8 hits, including a homer, in 21 career ab's). With Cody Ross a career 2 for 25 vs. Huddy, Boch needs to seriously consider making that lineup switch for Sunday's game. For more Giants coverage all series long, check out The Giants Baseball Blog!
Raiders vs. Chargers
Even though the Raiders will play host to their SoCal rivals, they still will have their hands full with the Chargers. After looking subpar in losses to Kansas City and Seattle, the Chargers got back on track last week and smashed on the Cardinals, 41-10. Granted, the Cards are one of the worst teams in the league, the Chargers looked to have finally found themselves in 2010, as they've always been a bit of slow starters. The Raiders though, should be right in this one. Their stingy secondary will make things tough on Phillip Rivers' looks to his wideouts, but I'm not sure the Raiders will have an answer for an early season MVP candidate in Antonio Gates (24 catches, 386 yards, 6 TD's). Not too mention, the Raiders won't be operating at full-strength themselves, as Darren McFadden will likely sit vs. SD, taking away the Raiders top offensive weapon. That means Michael Bush and Raiders wideouts Louis Murphy and Derrious Heyward-Bey, who were basically invisible last week, need to step up big time to keep pace with San Diego. I just don't see the Raiders having enough without DMac out there at full-strength, and I take San Diego in this one, 28-16.
49ers vs. Eagles
Now, the Niners are reeling, coming into this game at 0-4, but luckily, they'll be facing an Eagles unit that will be without starting QB Michael Vick (who's regained his mojo) and will be with a banged up LeSean McCoy toting the ball for them. The Niners also get this game at home, where they won't have such a problem with crowd noise and that young offensive line. Still, the Niners are going to have to fight in order to earn their first win of the year. They're the best 0-4 team I've ever seen, but that doesn't mean anything unless they go on a massive winning streak, starting now. If they can contain Kolb and the speedy Eagles receivers (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin), which will be no easy feat, then I think they should control the game. They definitely need to try and keep possession as often as possible, so that means Frank Gore should get at least 25 carries, and get established early. Through all their struggles, I think the Niners actually get this one right this weekend and beat the Eagles, 24-20.