Monday, September 12, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 80 62 - On their way to the Bronx.
GIANTS 77 65 3 First series sweep in 2 months.
Wild Card W L GB
GIANTS 77 65 - 13 of final 20 games at home.
New York 76 67 - On their way to Washington.
St Louis 75 67 .5 Here come the Cubs.

Giants defeated Arizona, 5-3, to sweep the series and conclude the road trip at 5-5.
LA was shut out, 3-0, in Miami and lost two of three.
New York defeated Atlanta 10-3, and St Louis lost to Milwaukee.

Giants return home and open a three-game set against San Diego. Jeff Samardzija gets the start against Paul Clemens, who has struggled of late. 7:15 local, 10:15 EDT.
LA opens a series in Yankee Stadium. Those pining for a Dodgers-Yankees World Series-- yes, both of you!-- can take heart from knowing that New York is only 2 games out in the crazy AL wild-card race.
New York faces the division-leading Nationals in Washington, while St Louis takes on the division-leading Cubs at home. 

Yesterday's Game
Mike Moore pitched: 11 strikeouts and only one walk over seven innings. Hunter Pence hit: a ringing two-run double in the seventh that turned a one-run lead into a three-run cushion. And Hunter Strickland closed it out: after scaring everyone by allowing a leadoff double to the engagingly-named Socrates Brito, Strickland quietly retired the side without fuss on eight pitches, showing the poise that has been missing from this position for some time now.  Pence's three-game tally stands at 8-for-11 with four walks, eight runs scored, and three RBI. "As Hunter Pence goes, so go the San Francisco Giants."  And with Bruce Bochy now going with closer-by-committee, we can hope his legendary acumen, the ability to select the right matchup at the right time, will moderate the relative mediocrity of this year's bullpen. Plus Derek Law is due to come off the DL this week. He may be needed against St Louis.  

Though it's "only" the last-place Diamondbacks, this series sweep was huge. For one thing, the Giants had been playing worse than Arizona over the last two months. For another, this was the Giants' first sweep of any series since the high point at 57-33 on July 10. And this road trip, which began with that cruelly disappointing Chicago series and featured three blown saves in seven games, stood at 2-5 when the Giants arrived in the desert. It ended 5-5. Now, the Giants don't leave California for the remainder of the season. The time is ripe: as the Giants prepare to face San Diego, the Mets and Cardinals go up against their respective division leaders; the Cubs actually could eliminate the Cardinals with a three-game sweep. And LA is on the road against the Yankees, who are fighting for their lives in a four-team division battle and a seven-team Wild Card scramble. Yes, we know there's a four-game set against the Cardinals later this week, and six remaining against LA. By no means are we out of the woods. But the Giants have vaulted back into the middle of the mix, and isn't this what pennant-race baseball is all about? 

Other than the one we all care about, there's only one division race left in baseball, and it's a doozy: the four-team AL East circus. Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto have all held the lead over the past few weeks, and the Yankees refuse to fade. If it ended today, the Sox would be on top with the Orioles and Jays the two AL wild-cards. But the Yanks, Detroit Tigers, defending champion KC Royals, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners all are within four games of a wild-card spot. We're big fans of the second wild-card; if you're gonna have the thing at all, make sure it's a "settle-for" option. But an ancillary "benefit" of all this extra eligibility might be a series of one-game playoffs just to get to the one-game playoff. Let's hope not...  Terry Francona's revitalized Cleveland Indians and Jeff Banister's Texas Rangers are well ahead in their divisions, as are the Cubs and Nationals in the NL... Our old pal Dusty Baker could become the fourth manager in baseball history to lead four different teams into the postseason. Billy Martin, Dick Williams, and Dave Johnson are the others... The Pittsburgh Pirates, who had such big dreams in April, were officially eliminated from the division race this week and are six games out and falling in the wild-card race... Zach Greinke, who took the loss yesterday, has only lost twice to the Giants in his career. Both times were this year and both were at Bank One Ballpark. 

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