The baseball season is long – like five months and 162 games long. So when the whole season comes down to two or three games, it can be a little shocking. This is one of those seasons.
The San Francisco Giants are set to face off against their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for a three game series that will essentially decide whether or not the Giants make the postseason.
With just three games left in the season, the Giants are in a battle with the Mets and Cardinals for the two National League Wild Card spots. The Mets lead the pack and are leading the second place Giants by one game. The Mets are on the outside looking in, and trail the Giants by one game. Translation: the Giants need to win at least two of their final three games to guarantee at least keep the possibility of a fourth playoff berth in seven years alive.
The Giants will start their ace in the form of the snot-rocketing lefty, Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is coming off a dominant, if unproductive start against these Dodgers. In that game, Bumgarner was dominant through seven innings, but was removed after he and Yasiel Puig incited a both benches to empty. The two don’t like each other, but Bumgarner should be reticent to repeat the incident, given the importance of tonight’s ballgame.
“I don’t see something happening, to be honest,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But you never know.”
The really intriguing question then becomes, what if the Dodgers peg Bumgarner? Or what if Bumgarner pegs a Dodger, especially Puig, even on accident? Needless to say, every at bat Bumgarner takes should be interesting, and every time Puig steps to the plate cameras will be ready.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are sending ex-Oakland A Rich Hill to the mound. Hill doesn’t have the colorful storylines that Bumgarner does, however, he does have some impressive credentials. He’s 3-2 with a 1.53 ERA through five games in a Dodger uniform. He last faced San Francisco on Sept. 20, when he allowed just one run on six hits in five complete innings. He did, however, suffer the loss.
It’s also likely that Hill (and all Los Angeles’ starters in this series) will be working limited innings/pitches given that manager Dave Roberts will wants everyone fresh for their playoff run, which starts next week against the Washington Nationals.
If nothing else, this game means a lot to the people on the field and in the stands. Not only are these two teams rivals in the bitterest sense of the word, they are also both good and they both have something to lose.
It’s a cool September evening in San Francisco. Fans are already unfolding their blankets and preparing for the wind swirling about the outfield flags to combine with nighttime fog and bring a chill into the park. It feels like playoff baseball in AT&T, probably because it (basically) is.