The host San Francisco Giants hope newcomer Kris Bryant can help change the franchise's fortunes against Houston Astros right-hander Zack Greinke when the division leaders meet for a second time in their three-game interleague series on Saturday afternoon.
In a matchup of the top team in the American League West against the leader of the National League West, the Astros got the jump Friday night when Jose Altuve bombed two homers, including a grand slam, in a 9-6 win.
The Giants acquired Bryant from the Chicago Cubs about six hours before the series opener, not enough time for him to fly to San Francisco. But he's expected to make his Giants debut on Saturday.
The Giants hope the infielder/outfielder packed his hot bat for the trip west. Bryant had six hits over a four-game stretch before going 0-for-3 in his Cubs finale on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old has gone 3-for-10 in his career against Greinke with two doubles.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he talked to Bryant after the trade and came away excited to pencil him somewhere into Saturday's lineup.
"He said, 'I'm down to play anywhere. I'm down to hit anywhere. I just want to help this team win.' He was genuinely excited to be a part of this," Kapler noted before Friday's game. "I said, 'That's awesome,' because our team has kind of an unselfish vibe right now, and it's exactly what we need."
Greinke (10-3, 3.48 ERA) has dominated the Giants over the years, running up a 14-3 record with a 2.18 ERA over 21 starts. He has never lost at Oracle Park in San Francisco, going 6-0 with a 1.19 ERA in eight starts.
The Houston ace has won last two starts, limiting the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers to a total of three runs over 11 1/3 innings.
Greinke could benefit further from a deeper bullpen, one that added four new arms this week, including right-hander Phil Maton from the Indians at the deadline Friday in exchange for outfielder Myles Straw.
"We felt like we needed one more weapon in the bullpen to really solidify things out there," Astros general manager James Click explained of the Maton deal. "I felt personally that Chas McCormick had done everything to earn a lot more playing time (in center field). He's been exceptionally effective in the role he's had so far, and we have a lot of confidence in him to step up and continue to contribute an everyday role."
The Astros wasted no time throwing one of their newcomers into the fire on Friday night when Kendall Graveman, acquired Tuesday from the Seattle Mariners, was brought into a 7-5 game with two outs in the seventh inning to face Donovan Solano with the potential tying runs on the bases.
Graveman got Solano to ground out.
Greinke, 37, will be matched up with another 30-something when the Giants counter with left-hander Alex Wood (9-3, 3.65), who has gone 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his last eight starts.
Like Greinke, the 30-year-old has been tough on Saturday's opponent, allowing the Astros just one run and eight hits in 14 career innings over three games, including two starts. He's gone 1-1 with a 0.64 ERA in those games.
Wood has faced Friday's star, Altuve, just three times, getting him to ground out twice and fly out once in a 2014 game between the Atlanta Braves and the Astros.
One guy Wood hasn't mastered is Greinke, who has two hits -- equally the most among all current Astros -- in six career at-bats.
--Field Level Media