Friday, September 26, 2014

Pittsburgh   87-72       ...                 Only one game out of first place.
GIANTS      86-73     1  GB            * GIANTS CLINCH WILD CARD *
Milwaukee  81-78      5  GB           Took themselves out with loss.

Giants defeated San Diego, 9-8.
Pittsburgh defeated Atlanta, 10-1.
Milwaukee lost at Cincinnati, 5-3, and were eliminated from further contention.

Giants host San Diego; 7:05 at the 'Bell. Ryan Vogelsong could use a strong start here to earn a place in the postseason rotation plans. Ian Kennedy opposes.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati in the first of three. For reference, St Louis, the NL Central leader, plays at Arizona this weekend.

Last Night's Game
The Giants went into the game knowing they'd clinched a postseason spot, and for the first five innings they played like it, rolling up a 6-0 lead behind Yusmeiro Petit's eight strikeouts. They knocked around Andrew Cashner, who'd so bedeviled them last weekend, scoring in each inning. Homers by the Brandons, Belt and Crawford, and two RBI from Pablo Sandoval built a nice cushion that began to evaporate as soon as the Padres called on "Doctor Longball." Two homers in the sixth, by Will Venable and Yasmani Grandal, put three on the board and chased Petit. Then came two more blows in the seventh, including a grand slam by the aforementioned Grandal off suddenly-vulnerable Jean Machi. As you might expect, a walk-- unintentional, this time-- immediately preceded the grand salami. Rene Rivera's solo shot made it a five-run frame, a 8-6 San Diego lead, and set up a most embarrassing back-in scenario for an alleged "playoff team." Thankfully, that team rose to the occasion right away-- four straight singles in the bottom of the frame by Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, the inevitable Sandoval with his third RBI, and Belt, with his second RBI to tie the game. With first and third and one out, Matt Duffy pinch-hit and dropped a perfect bunt down the line to score Susac with the game-winner. Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla made it hold up, and Tim Lincecum, who came in to stop the bleeding in the seventh and retired the side on two pitches, got the win. Now, that's more like it!

It wasn't Ted Williams with a home run and a heads-down trot around the bases and into the clubhouse, but Derek Jeter made his last at-bat in New York memorable with a walk-off RBI base hit in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Baltimore. And gamer that he is, Jeter won't walk off completely after his 'moment'; he'll be in the dugout tonight and this weekend at Fenway Park, even if he strikes out as a pinch-hitter in his last at-bat. Your ticket to Cooperstown was punched long ago, Mr Jeter...   Detroit is still trying to clinch the AL Central, leading the KC Royals by two. Both won last night... One look at Mike Trout's numbers and you know who the American League MVP is... Most encouraging to see the Giants score nine runs last night, their highest total in two weeks. Since that opening win against LA in the three-game home series, they'd scored five once, four once, two five times, one once, and been shut out three times. Not surprisingly, they went 3-8 in those games... If we had to pick a division-series rotation it would be Peavy, Petit, and Bumgarner for the first three. That's a no-brainer, right? Should a Game Four be necessary-- well, that's what Bruce Bochy is pondering right now, and that's why Vogelsong's effort tonight is so important, for himself and for the team.

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