Tracy Ringolsby

Giants look ahead to 'big-time rivalry' series

After two rough games at Coors Field, San Francisco ready to face Los Angeles

Giants look ahead to 'big-time rivalry' series

DENVER -- The Giants have put Coors Field and the nightmarish past two days in their rearview mirror. They can't afford to look back. What's ahead is a big enough challenge.

It's only April. But it's Dodgers-Giants at Dodger Stadium, a three-game weekend series with nationally televised games on Friday (MLB Network) and Sunday (ESPN).

"You realize as soon as you get to the big leagues in this organization that the Dodgers are a big rivalry," said Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. "You know you're going to be playing in front of rowdy crowds. It can be fun. We love it."

Belt's two-run homer

These are two teams who have a history dating back to the days when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Giants called the Polo Grounds home, before they both moved west following the 1957 season.

"You know it's going to be a battle, good times or bad," said Belt. "Both teams play hard."

Lately, it has been good times for both, which only adds to the emotions on the field and in the stands. The Giants have won three of the past six World Series, and the Dodgers have won five of the past eight National League West titles, including the past three.

Yes, the D-backs made their presence felt in the offseason with a series of moves that included signing free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers and acquiring starting pitcher Shelby Miller from the Braves, but even the folks in Arizona know that the path to October runs from Dodger Stadium to AT&T Park.

And if that isn't enough to pump up the emotions, San Francisco is arriving at Dodger Stadium on Friday afternoon well aware that the boys in blue will be looking to make amends for a visit to AT&T Park last week in which they dropped three out of four.

The Dodgers let a four-run lead slip away in Game 1. They saw a 7 1/3-inning, no-hit effort by Ross Stripling in his big league debut turn into a 3-2, 10-inning loss in Game 2. And after tallying a 3-2, 10-inning victory in Game 3, Los Angeles blew a five-run first-inning lead in a 9-6 loss in the series finale.

Stripling's hitless MLB debut

The Dodgers' bullpen was frazzled. Relievers allowed 12 runs in 10 1/3 innings, including J.P. Howell, who faced six batters without recording an out and saw all six of them cross home plate.

Yes, the Giants got blitzed in the past two games against the Rockies after opening their visit to Coors Field with a 7-2 victory on Tuesday behind an overpowering effort from Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija's winning start

Nolan Arenado's two-homer, seven-RBI display on Wednesday contributed to San Francisco's 10-6 defeat, and on Thursday, it was a nine-run fifth inning that was the foundation of an 11-6 Colorado victory.

"We've been through this many times in [Coors Field]," said manager Bruce Bochy. "Long games, lots of runs. We know how to deal with it. We put it behind us.

"This is a tough group. We have a big series coming up. Even though it is April, there's going to be a big-time atmosphere the next three days."

And it's a big-time trio of pitching matchups, beginning Friday with a showdown of the game's two elite lefties, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. And then comes San Francisco's two free-agent additions, Johnny Cueto and Samardzija, in Games 2 and 3 against Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda of Los Angeles.

"When I'm pitching, I ignore all the [hype]," said Bumgarner. "Come Saturday, it's going to be fun to watch it. There's no secret that the Dodgers and Giants are a big-time rivalry."

The clubs are pretty evenly matched as well. San Francisco has a 60-51 edge since the start of the 2010 season, but Los Angeles has won 29 of 56 games at Dodger Stadium.

"Doesn't matter where it's played," said Belt, "it's going to be a challenge for both teams. There's that special atmosphere."

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.