The Giants continued their recent trend on Thursday of scoring only when hitting the ball over the fence. Luckily, they’ve been doing it fairly often of late. Showing signs of life, Pablo Sandoval started the scoring with a second inning solo home run. Later, in the fifth, Andres Torres – thank god this guy is back – hit a solo shot to give the Giants a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. And finally, Buster Posey – who has been a bit unlucky on balls in play lately – put the game more or less out of reach given the Giants’ recent pitching trend by hitting a ball out of play, a two run bomb to anchor his RoY chances.
As for the Padres, they are clinging for their lives. The Padres lost again today, giving them a 1-3 series against the scrappy Cubs. The Giants had already assured that one win would clinch the division (magic number 2), but with the Padres loss the worst case scenario is a one game playoff on Monday and the magic number is now just 1. This means, the Padres will have to beat Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonothan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum, in a row, to win the division. That folks, is what we call being in the drivers seat.
The Giants have already won 91 games and have the second best record in the league. Their goal now is to first clinch, and secondly, to do everything possible to keep the second best record. This would ensure a first round playoff matchup against... any team but the Phillies! Why could this be significant? Well, the Phillies opted for the eight day divisional series which allows them to pitch only Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. Furthermore, the home field advantage they clinched throughout the playoffs (with some help from the NL All-Star victory) allows them to pitch their top three in 17 of 19 possible games.
Finally, as a caution, please do not assume that the Panda is emerging from a season long slumber. I was tricked several times over the course of this season while he strung several excellent games together. Unfortunately, those bouts of success were closely followed by deep freezes of Anarctic proportion. I hope he steps up, but I won't dare claim he might.
Humm baby! Who let the dogs out?! It’s magic inside! Got buster? Got beard?
Note: I've been writing some guest posts at Baseball: Past and Present. More are likely to come; here are the first two: Great Pennant Races in Giants History and The Seven Greatest Season for Pitchers Since 1950
Cheers, enjoy the weekend.