Opportunity knocks in first series of second half for San Francisco 

click to enlarge Melky Cabrera - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • us presswire file photo
  • Melky Cabrera

If the All-Star Game is any indication, it could be an exciting second half for the Giants. Melky Cabrera, Matt Cain, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval all played key roles in the Midsummer Classic, and Cabrera was named the game’s MVP after going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer.

San Francisco opens the second half today against the lowly Houston Astros, who lost 10 of their last 11 games heading into the break. The Giants also stumbled into the break, losing five games during a six-game road trip.

San Francisco still needs to get two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum on track, but the rest of its rotation has been solid. The team also needs better play from outfielders Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan, who have both struggled in recent weeks. The Giants are a half-game behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, while the Astros are last in the NL Central.

They’ll turn to Madison Bumgarner (10-5, 3.27 ERA) to kick things off in the second half. Bumgarner was All-Star-worthy in the first half, but he struggled in his last start before the break, giving up seven earned runs in five innings against the Washington Nationals on July 4.

The Astros will counter with Jordan Lyles, who has made quality starts in three of his last four outings.

NOTES: The Giants are 35-14 when scoring at least four runs. ... San Francisco hit .225 with runners in scoring position in the first half, which was the second-worst in baseball. ... Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell is expected to return today after being on the disabled list since June 26 with loose bodies in his left ankle.

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