SAN DIEGO Someone asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy about the upcoming three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Was he keeping an eye on what the Dodgers were doing?
This is usually when the skipper throws out one of his stock answers. Were just focused on ourselves here. Something like that.
But Bochy had the Dodgers-Braves game on in his office Sunday morning. So he had to be honest.
You cant help it. Its what we do, Bochy said. And were fans, too. Well watch games when theyre on. Well check scores. Thats the fun part, particularly this time of year.
The Giants destroyed the Dodgers in three consecutive shutouts in June when Matt Kemp was on the disabled list. The Dodgers were nearly as dominant July 27-29 while sweeping three games by a combined score of 19-3 at AT&T Park.
The Giants were flat-footed without Pablo Sandoval at the time. They will be without Melky Cabrera for the remainder of the season. But now Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro are settled into their surroundings.
So how will they match up this time? Will this series provide the true indication which squad is best in the NL West?
Two good teams, said Bochy, whose Giants enter with a half-game deficit. Both clubs know whats at stake and theyre playing well. Obviously, they had their way with us last time. Well have to play better. We know it. All of the guys look forward to it.
Including Brandon Belt, who said he is ready to experience his first pennant race as a full-fledged regular.
I think everybody is excited. You can feel it in the locker room, Belt said. This is the fun part of the year. Well go over there and hopefully do some damage in this next series.
There might not be much damage on the scoreboard Monday, when Clayton Kershawtangles with Madison Bumgarner. Its the fourth time that Kershaw will face the Giants this season; hes 1-2 with a 1.57 ERA in three starts, having been turned aside twice by Ryan Vogelsong.
Bumgarner hasnt faced the Dodgers in 2012. He was 3-2 with a 4.11 ERA in five starts against them last year.
He knows the Dodgers are coming off a 10-game trip that could have presented a sizable pitfall. Instead, they won seven of 10 in Miami, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
Belt might be new to a big-game atmosphere. Not Bumgarner, who pitched the Giants to a Halloween night victory in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series.
Take it like any other start, he said, after pulling on his ostrich boots for the bus from Petco Park to Los Angeles. Just be prepared and have a plan against those guys and be sure Im on my game, because theyre a good hitting team. If I can do that, the rest will take care of itself.