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Sideshow: Giants at Phillies, May 5-7, 2006

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May 5: Phillies 8, Giants 3 WP: Floyd (3-2) LP: Cain (1-4)
May 6: Phillies 4, Giants 1 WP: Madson (3-1) LP: Wright (2-3) S: Gordon (10)
May 7: Phillies 9, Giants 5 WP: Lieber (2-4) LP: Morris (2-3)

For more on the Giants, please visit our SBN sister site at McCovey Chronicles

With Barry Bonds two home runs shy of tying Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list, the eyes of the sporting world turn to Philadelphia this weekend as baseball's most despised player confronts America's worst behaved fans. Don't believe this is the storyline? Just look at this preview story as it ticks off the list of Philly transgressions. Michael Irvin injury? Check. Snowballs ten years earlier? Check. Booing of Santa? That's a big ol' check. Much as I'm personally looking forward to Sunday night's national broadcast on ESPN, I'm dreading the inevitable airing of all these offenses yet again... particularly with the Phils coming off back-to-back comeback wins in front of two of the most supportive home crowds they've seen in years.

So let's try to filter out the Bonds noise and focus on the action between the foul lines. Both clubs come into the series with 14-14 records, though the Giants have descended toward .500 of late: San Fran has lost four of its last games to slip a game and a half back of NL West co-leaders Arizona and Colorado. Yet again, the Phillies miss the opposition's ace: Jason Schmidt, who threw a five-hit shutout at Milwaukee on Wednesday, will watch these games from the bench. Instead, the Phils will see 21 year-old wunderkind Matt Cain for the first time ever--another potential data point in the debate over how the team fares against unknown hurlers. Saturday's starter, Jamey Wright, generally hasn't fared well against Philadelphia: in ten career appearances, he's just 3-5 with a 6.63 ERA and 10 home runs allowed in 55.2 innings, with more walks (33) than strikeouts (32). With struggling Ryan Madson slated to start for the Phils, scoring could be plentiful.

Sunday's big finale features veteran righty Matt Morris against, not Cole Hamels (sorry, Bill Conlin), but putative Phils ace Jon Lieber. In eight career appearances against the Phils, Morris evidently has been more lucky than good: the team is hitting .313 against him, but he's pitched to a 3.27 ERA. Morris, whom some wanted the Phils to pursue as a free agent this past winter, has recorded just 14 strikeouts in 33 innings this season; he'll be 32 in August, which is young for the Giants, but not so much for a former power pitcher who's got $27 million coming to him over the next three seasons.

For his part, Lieber will be looking for his second straight win--and first at home--after a nightmarish April. Bonds (okay, you knew I was coming back to him) is just 5 for 36 in his career against Lieber, but three of those hits left the park. If he can manage a home run or two against Gavin Floyd, whom he's never faced, and Ryan Madson, against whom Bonds is 0-1 with a walk lifetime, a little history--and potentially a lot of ugliness--could indeed feature into Sunday night's events.

And frankly, if the Phils win the series, I couldn't care less.