The Los Angeles Dodgers are the defending champions, and the San Diego Padres have one of the most dynamic rosters in baseball.
With that type of competition pushing them, the San Francisco Giants have been unyielding.
The Giants haven’t had a winning season since 2016, and they were certainly overshadowed by Dodgers and Padres entering this one, but it’s been clear for a while that San Francisco needs to be taken seriously. The Giants have won 15 of their last 20 games. Not only do they have baseball’s best record, but they’re four games ahead of the Dodgers, the next-best team.
How have they done it? The Giants lead the National League in homers despite not having a player with 20. Brandon Crawford, their 34-year-old shortstop, is having a career year with the bat. He has 19 home runs, one of eight players on the team with at least 13.
Kevin Gausman (11-5, 2.29 ERA) has pitched like a front-line starter this season, and Anthony DeSclafani (11-5, 3.29) has rebounded after a brutal 2020 with Cincinnati.
If the Giants hold on, that would potentially put the Dodgers and Padres in a one-game wild-card matchup to start the postseason – with both teams facing the prospect of a quick elimination. And even that matchup is far from certain. San Diego dropped four in a row against the lowly Marlins and Diamondbacks, and the Padres now lead Cincinnati by just 2 1/2 games for the second wild card. St. Louis is 4 1/2 back after six straight wins.
San Diego did end its skid Sunday, and Fernando Tatis Jr. returned from the injured list and homered twice in that game. The Padres put him in right field instead of at shortstop in an effort to keep him healthy.
Cincinnati is riding the resurgence of Joey Votto, who has 15 homers since the All-Star break.
The Giants are on pace to win over 100 games. How many times have they done that since moving to San Francisco?
LINE OF THE WEEK
It’s hard to be too surprised when someone throws a no-hitter this year, but Tyler Gilbert’s effort Saturday night came pretty much out of nowhere. The Arizona lefty became the fourth pitcher to toss a no-hitter in his first big league start, blanking San Diego 7-0. It was the eighth no-hitter in the majors this year, tying a mark set in 1884.
A day later, Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie retired the first 23 Detroit batters before allowing a single.
ESCAPE OF THE WEEK
The Seattle Mariners had the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game Tuesday against Texas. At that point, the Mariners had a 93.1% chance to win, according to Baseball Savant. But Spencer Patton, who had created the mess by allowing three walks and a single in the inning, struck out J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger, then retired Kyle Seager to send the game to extra innings. The Rangers won 5-4 in 10.
The Mariners recovered from that loss to win their next four in a row, but they’re 5 1/2 games out of a postseason spot.
With apologies to Trea Turner’s slick slide into home plate, the most memorable play of this week was Tim Anderson’s game-winning homer into the cornfield for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night. Chicago’s 9-8 win over the Yankees in the ”Field of Dreams” game in Iowa was just what baseball needed to jazz up the dog days of August.
The Giants have won six pennants and three World Series while in San Francisco, but they’ve won more than 100 games only twice, when they won 103 in 1962 and 1993. The ’93 team actually finished second to Atlanta in the NL West in the final pre-wild card season.
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