San Francisco Giants: Is Game 4 a Must-Win?


Sep 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher

Ryan Vogelsong

(32) throws to the San Diego Padres in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Typically, I’m not one to declare a non-elimination game a “must-win” game. Yet, Tuesday’s game four against Washington could be just that for the San Francisco Giants.

My reasoning will be simple and concise. First off, a potential game five would be in Washington. Sure, the Giants have already won two games away from AT&T this series, but do you really want to try your luck away from home, on a losing streak, and without your ace starting?

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The other caveat to a potential game five is that Jordan Zimmerman could potentially start on regular rest. Zimmerman, in his last two starts, has gone 17 2/3 innings, allowed three hits total, and just one run. In other words, he’s in the groove.

His opposition would be either Jake Peavy (W, 5.2 IP, 2 hits, 3 walks, 3 K’s in game one) or Tim Hudson (7.1 IP, 7 hits, 1 run, 8 K’s, game two). Both have the potential to duel with Zimmerman, but it’s better to not force the issue. Winning game 4 in crucial.

So can the San Francisco Giants win on Tuesday? That’s another question indeed. The scheduled pitchers are Gio Gonzalez for Washington and Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants.

Vogey has had a tough time against the Nats this season, but with every Giants’ starter stepping up around him this postseason, this may be his time to shine. It may also be his time to prove to the Giants (or another team) that he is worth a look for next season.

In his start at home against Washington on June 9th, Vogelsong went six innings, gave up nine hits, and six runs en route to a 9-2 loss, and a career night from Ian Desmond (3 for 5, 5 RBI). This was the start of the June Swoon for San Francisco.

In his other start, in Washington on August 24, Vogelsong pitched 5.1 innings, giving up four hits, four walks, and three runs, leading to yet another Giants’ loss, 14-6.

Gio Gonzalez has not faced the San Francisco Giants this season. In two career postseason starts, Gonzalez has totaled ten innings pitched, allowing five runs on six hits and eleven walks.

The book on Gio his entire career has been to work the count against him. When he starts walking batters, he gets flustered, and gets beaten. If Gonzalez is on, there isn’t much the opposition can do. Yet, if he provides a little wriggle room, the Giants must seize the opportunity.

I’m expecting a high-scoring affair (perhaps 5-4 one way or another) on Tuesday night. Tuesday isn’t a win-or-go-home game, but the Giants should bring the lumber to the yard, work the count, and pull out all the stops on Tuesday, because in a potential game five, anything can happen.