The focus will be on pitching, as is often the case at San Francisco's AT&T Park, when the Colorado Rockies visit the Giants for a three-game series beginning Friday.
The Rockies are curious to find out how well their bullpen, which contributed to a 4-2 season-opening homestand, can travel.
The Giants are trying to determine whether their once-formidable starting rotation has a chance to regain elite status.
The overall season numbers don't look good for the Rockies' relievers, but that's mainly because of an eight-hit, six-run, two-thirds of an inning meltdown Tuesday by right-hander Wilton Lopez, who was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs the next day.
But Wednesday's 10-4 victory over the White Sox was a revelation. Relievers worked four shutout innings.
Manager Walt Weiss has established LaTroy Hawkins as closer, but can have Rex Brothers pitch the ninth on occasion. Boone Logan from the left and Adam Ottavino from the right can handle one batter or pitch full innings.
"The bullpen is going to be one of the keys for us this year, especially when we get on the road," Weiss said. "We've got to be able to put the game away on the road and you do that with a good bullpen. It's nice to see those guys going well."
Meanwhile, the Giants will send out their top three starters against the Rockies: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson. Bumgarner and Hudson have pitched up to expectations, but Cain prompted concern by yielding three home runs last Sunday at Los Angeles.
"I like the way he attacked the zone tonight," manager Bruce Bochy said after that game. "He had good stuff. If he goes up there with that stuff, he'll be just fine. I thought he was throwing the ball well. You ask if this is going to be a pattern -- I know it's not, and I don't want him thinking about it."
The Giants have no worries about Bumgarner, who struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings last Saturday and threw 114 pitches, an ambitious total this early in the season.
"He's a horse," Bochy said. "He's strong. He wasn't happy to come out of the game, but that's Madison."
Hudson has been nothing short of excellent, winning both of his starts and walking none in 15 2/3 innings. He has shown no ill effects from the right ankle injury that limited him to 21 starts last year.
"It's been a long road for me to get here and I'm just thrilled to death to be back out there pitching and competing, feeling somewhat healthy," Hudson said. "I couldn't ask for a better start to the year."
Rockies: Club gains much-needed momentum
The Rockies have gone 29-52 on the road each of the last two seasons, and they started this season by dropping three of four in Miami. They hope to ride the momentum of a 4-2 homestand, during which they scored in double figures twice and had nine- and eight-run games, on this six-game National League West road trip, to San Francisco and San Diego.
Even with the poor overall road record and 74-88 overall mark last season, they were 38-38 against the NL West. The Rockies can fight their way to surprise contention with better road play, especially within the division.
"That was a good homestand," said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who sat out Wednesday's game to rest his tight right quadriceps but expects to feel good Friday. "That's what we try to do, dominate at home and hold our own on the road. The years I've been here, that's been kind of the recipe to the playoffs."
Several players are riding hot streaks. Charlie Blackmon hit .542 (13-for-24) with a home run, five extra-base hits and seven RBIs on the homestand. Michael Cuddyer is at .415 after hitting safely in all 10 games. Carlos Gonzalez has hit in nine straight and is tied with Cuddyer for the team lead in home runs with three, and Justin Morneau has hit in all eight games he has played.
"We have to keep the same momentum, especially in San Francisco -- they've been playing really good baseball," Gonzalez said. "Then go to San Diego with the same mentality."
Giants: Pagan maintains torrid pace
Center fielder Angel Pagan appears to be making up for lost time. After missing 82 games with an injured left hamstring last year -- an injury he sustained against the Rockies on May 25 -- Pagan has burst quickly from the gate this season. The leadoff batter hit safely in San Francisco's first 10 games, including six multiple-hit efforts.
Pagan has excelled in the clutch, batting .462 (6-for-13) with runners in scoring position. Hudson, who as a member of the Atlanta Braves from 2005-2013 faced Pagan frequently when the latter played for the Mets, has been duly impressed.
"He's been awesome," Hudson said. "Since he's been over here, he's grown as a player. He's definitely a lot better now than he was as a younger player, which is what you want to see. You want to see players mature."
• Rockies righty Tyler Chatwood, on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain sustained late in Spring Training, passed running tests Wednesday, a day after he struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings for Triple-A Colorado Springs on a rehab assignment. He'll likely start Sunday against the Giants, but the Rockies haven't made an official announcement.
• Weiss said in just a few games this year, he notices more heady at-bats than last season. "Last year, a lot of pitchers attacked us away, and I felt like we struggled covering away," Weiss said. "We talked about that a lot this spring. There's a heightened sense of awareness with our club."
• Tulowitzki has felt tightness in his right quadriceps since Opening Day and sat out two games plus the final innings of two blowout victories during the six-game homestand. A rested Tulowitzki believes he is in good shape for the trip.
• The Giants enter Friday's contest with the Rockies as the NL leader in home runs, putting up a total of 14 through their first 10 games of the year. Leading the charge has been first baseman Brandon Belt with a team-high five homers. "I think it's good that people see what we already knew -- that we have a lot of good hitters on this team," Belt said. "We're a very well-rounded team. We have good pitching and defense and now we're seeing that we have a good offense out there with a lot of power."
• Injured Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is still in Arizona rehabbing his balky lower back after being sidelined since the start of the year and limited to just one Spring Training contest. "He's still doing light workouts," Bochy said Thursday. "Don't have anything new to tell you."
• Rehabbing Giants southpaw reliever Jeremy Affeldt (sprained right knee) appeared for Class A Advanced San Jose on Thursday night, striking out two in a perfect inning, and is scheduled to throw again Friday before the Giants re-evaluate his situation.
• This will mark the first time that Colorado and San Francisco will go head-to-head following their close season series in 2013. While the Giants went 10-9 against the Rockies last year, the Rockies actually outscored San Francisco 88-87 across the 19 games. Don't be surprised to see a slugfest, as the Giants and Rockies ranked as the top two scoring teams in the National League.