The Key for the San Francisco Giants Down the Stretch


Apr 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA;San Francisco Giants team celebrates as San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Hicks (14) crosses the plate after his ninth inning home run against the Cleveland Indians at AT&T Park. Giants won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants are showing the baseball world that they aren’t done yet, holding a 5-3 record in September, and a 16-7 record since August 16th. With a slew of games left against the NL West, the Giants will need to stay hot to seal a Wild Card berth, or even possibly steal the division from the boys in blue.

The NL West is not exactly ripe with competition, but for some reason the Giants have had a tough time with these intra-division games. Against the NL West, the Giants hold a 32-27 record with their biggest competition being the Colorado Rockies (9-10 record). It was these same Rockies that roughed up Sergio Romo earlier this season and relieved the slider-machine of his closing duties.

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With only divisional games left, it’s simple to say that the Giants will need to put together some wins the rest of the season against teams that they have struggled against. Extrapolating their .542 winning percentage against the NL West the rest of the way should be enough to secure a Wild Card spot, with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves set to play a four-game set later in the month, and the Braves holding a 3-6 record in the month. However, the .542 clip may not be enough to overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division.

The Dodgers hold a 42-22 record against the dreadful West, even with a 6-7 record against the Giants. The key for them: beating the teams they’re supposed to beat. Granted, if the Giants can just manage to beat up on the Dodgers, it would make everything a whole lot easier. The Dodgers also have a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs from September 18-21.

So how do the Giants accrue these wins? It’s simple: score some runs. Of the 17 games remaining on the schedule, seven are against the San Diego Padres. The Padres are batting just .224 (Giants are batting .256) as a team with a .288 (.312) on-base percentage and have scored a measly 465 runs (601). To put it bluntly, that’s pathetic.

To balance this horrendous offense, the Padres have a solid pitching staff which ranks 3rd in baseball with a 3.23 staff ERA. Their bullpen is the best in the National League, and second only to the Seattle Mariners (2.41) with a 2.58 ERA. This makes the task of scoring runs for the Giants’ offense a little more difficult.

The Padres are limping through September with a 3-7 record, including a six-game losing streak which included losses to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Rockies and Dodgers. Over this stretch of ten games, the Padres have totaled 23 runs, and have been shut out three times.

With the Padres team ERA of 3.23, and the team scoring just 2.3 runs/game in September, the Giants should be able to score some easy victories against San Diego. The Dodgers on the other hand are through with the Padres, and have six left against the Rockies who they are 9-4 against this season. The Giants are 6-6 against San Diego.

As I said in my first article on this site, “[The Giants] have to notch victories against teams like these, where they are obviously the superior team.” That was in reference to an early 4-3 record against Arizona, who held an 11-23 record at the time. The words still ring true.

While the Dodgers and Giants still have six left to play, it’s likely that the teams will either split the six games at three apiece, or there will be a one game swing one way or the other. Beating the Padres is the key to the Giants winning the division.