With that, the Giants have won the same number of games as last season, 88. They also stayed ahead of the pesky Padres (by half game), who has continued to keep pace with the Giants (though they lost yesterday and Braves won, so they are behind both SF and Atlanta now), as they beat the Reds over the weekend, and it helped us either way, as now the Giants have a better record than the Reds, which is important because the Giants would get home advantage over the other teams, except for the Phillies, and more importantly, should the Braves win the Wildcard, it would force the Reds to play the Phillies and not the Giants. But it will be tough to keep this lead, as the Reds face the Astros and Brewers at home for their final six games, and both have been bad on the road.
The Giants also finished off their road games for the season and ended with a excellent 43-38 record, after being sharply in the red most of the season. Baggarly reported that this is their first winning road record since the 2004 season. Only the 'Dres and the Phillies can end up with a better road record, Phillies need to win 3 of their last 6 to have the best record and the 'Dres need to win one game against the Giants this coming weekend. So this is quite an accomplishment, particularly in light of where they were earlier in the season, as they were 15-20 when the Posey era began.
Now there are only 6 games left in the season, all at home where they are 45-30 and 20-13 since Posey took over C, and Arizona next. SD gets to face the now cold Cubs, which got slowed down by the Giants series win and now they lost the series against the Cards. Perhaps the loss of Tyler Colvin to the bat shard - Ban Maple Bats! - that punctured his chest and threatened his life, took some of the wind out of their sails and gave them a blow to the gut. With 4 games played while the Giants rested on Monday, they will catch up with us in terms of games played, and they need to win one more game than the Giants to tie us in the standings.
The Giants also "lead" the wildcard leaders Atlanta Braves by one game, an important factor should the 'Dres somehow managed to retake the NL West lead again (lead has switched hands four times in the last five days). The Braves also play 6 at home, 3 against Marlins, who has been .500 on the road, so they are not pushovers, then 3 final against the Phillies, so it won't be easy for them.
Arizona is playing out the string but have been feisty, going 6-4 in their last 10 games plus winning a series against the Giants at the end of August when the Giants desperately needed to win to get closer to the then strongly leading 'Dres. The Giants need to keep it going, win another series and maybe sweep them. But Kirk Gibson should be able to keep them motivated enough for that not to happen, plus they have two good pitchers going against us, though luckily we missed their new ace, Dan Hudson.
Game 1: Rodrigo Lopez vs. Sanchez
D-backs: Lopez allowed four first-inning runs against Colorado on Wednesday. To his credit, he threw four stellar frames before leaving with a stiff right hand, which was struck by a Ubaldo Jimenez breaking ball.
Giants: Despite allowing one earned run against the Cubs, Sanchez took his first loss since Aug. 13. He allowed four hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings. On July 23 against Arizona, Sanchez lasted only five innings, striking out 10 in a no-decision.Giants should win this game. Lopez has a 5.04 ERA, 5.22 road ERA for his career, 9.00 ERA in SF (in 2 starts, both blowouts). Plus, his hand has to have been damaged by that hit by pitch. Meanwhile, Sanchez has shown his new-found maturity as he has walked the talk, for the most part, after his big mouth gave San Diego bulletin board (e-mail? IM? Twitter?) something to put up last month when he guaranteed a Giants sweep and that they would leave SD in the dust. He was right that the Giants would catch them, but the Giants came close to being swept that weekend (though showing their resilience in character and demeanor by continuing to play well afterward), it took a huge 10 game losing streak on the 'Dres part, plus after catching the 'Dres, the Giants have not left them in the dust, they have been battling back and forth for the lead, though the most important part is that the Giants ended each series with the lead.
Since his promise, he has compiled a 2.15 ERA in 8 starts, only one of which was a blowout, and 6 of them he held the other team to 2 or less runs (3 in the other start, which was the SD game). Plus he leads the rotation in ERA in September with a 0.73 ERA, stepping up to his open challenge to himself, and amazingly his only 2 ER given up this month are the two homers he has given up. His ERA at home is 3.46 this season and in two starts against them, one at home and one on road, he went 5 IP in both games, 1 run given up, for a 1.80 ERA, total of 10 IP, 6 hits, 9 walks, and 17 strikeouts. This should be a win for the Giants.
D-backs: It's simple: If, in his last start of 2010, Kennedy keeps his pitch count down, he could go seven or eight innings. If he doesn't, expect a repeat of his four-frame, one-run outing against the Rockies on Thursday.
Giants: On a day when the wind was blowing out and the Giants' bats were hot, Bumgarner threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs, allowing only seven hits and striking out nine. In his last outing against the D-backs, he threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
D-backs: Enright is on track to finish well. After going 0-3 with a 12.08 ERA in three previous outings, the righty returned to form on Friday, limiting the Dodgers to two runs in eight innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts vs. San Francisco.
Giants: Because of Monday's off-day, the Giants could flip Lincecum and Barry Zito in the rotation so Lincecum can face the Padres in the season's final weekend. As of Sunday, however, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had made no such decision.
And now Sabean on KNBR noted that the Giants are thinking of moving up Lincecum a day to pitch Wednesday, instead of Bumgarner, in order to line him up in case there is a tie-breaker necessary, since they and the Braves and the 'Dres could end up tied, in some combination, at season's end.
"Three hundred percent," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said of the odds that San Diego makes the playoffs. "I'm a really positive guy. What can I say? 'Oh, my team is going to lose?' There's no way I'm going to say that. What are my chances? Really good chances."
Either that or Pablo Sandoval will have to step up. Perhaps with a few days off he has been able to clear his mind of nearly losing his mother in the inferno (if he wasn't playing baseball, she wouldn't have been there) and of his divorce (if he wasn't playing baseball, he would not have been tempted to stray from his wife). People forget that players are human too.
And he had returned to Panda mojo powers too. He was hitting .291/.327/.496/.823 with 6 HR in 141 AB after signing the divorce papers and before the San Bruno pipeline explosion and inferno that threatened his mother's life. The only interesting thing to come out of that explosion, Giants-wise, is all the people who come out complaining about his fatness and conditioning afterward, while he has struggled since. He did hit that line drive hit pinch-hitting the other day on a pitch outside the zone, showing his Panda dexterity of last season. If he can come back to Panda-ness by the playoffs, that would be quite a boon.