The Giants have done it for most of the season with pitching and an overwhelming bullpen. Lead by all-Cal Leaguer Taylor Wilding and phenom Sergio Romo. They lack a dominant ace starter but top to bottom have the deepest rotation in the League. Their Lineup lacks any major run producers but like their rotation, is solid with Adam Witter (.260/18/74), table setting outfielders Ben Copeland (.280, 7 HR, 14 SB) and Antoan Richardson (.279, 43 SB), and newcomer Travis Denker who had been a spark plug in the 66ers lineup all season before coming over in the Mark Sweeney trade.
The Storm seemed to be the poor man's version of the JetHawks which is why I was so surprised to see the top Lancaster in just 4 games. The Storm did have the leg up on the JetHawks, however, when it came to pitching. All-Cal Leaguers Matt Buschman (12-6, 2.89) and Manny Ayala (11-3, 2.22) where the best in the league after pitcher of the year winner Brandon Hynick (who the Giants where fortunate enough to avoid in the playoffs). Their lineup, albeit aided by "The Diamond", is stacked. 1B/DH Kyle Blanks (.301/24/100) and 3B David Freese (.302/17/96) were both on the post-season all-star team. Craig Cooper, Seth Johnston, and Josh Alley also had solid seasons for the Storm.
Although San Jose probably has the deeper rotation, their lack of an ace at the top of it may prove costly when facing the strong Storm lineup. The Giants have one of the best bullpen's in all of the minors but they may not get into a game until after the Giants are already trailing. On the hand, San Jose may be able to get around Lake Elsinore's 1-2 punch of Buschman and Ayala with a lineup the can manufacture runs. A versatile lineup like San Jose's also may help them if they ever find themselves having to make a comeback against the Storm's inferior bullpen.
Ultimately, however any rally the Giants may mount probably wont be enough against the Storm who have the firepower to build large leads. It's a classic case of pitching and fundamentals vs. a high-powered offense. I think Lake Elsinore wins in 4.
Games 1 & 2, Thursday and Friday @ Lake Elsinore
Games 3, 4, & 5, Sat, Sun, Mon @ San Jose