NL West

San Francisco Giants Look to Capture Playoff Berth

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The San Francisco Giants will host the division rival the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon in a game that could see the Giants clinch a postseason berth.

With just two games left to play, the Giants (85-75) are in a battle for the NL Wild Card with the New York Mets (86-74) and the St. Louis Cardinals (84-76). New York leads San Francisco by one game, while St. Louis trails them by a game. In other words, a Giant win today, combined with a Cardinal loss, would be enough to get the Giants into the Wild Card game against the Mets.

“We’re on a mission right now,” said Giants outfielder Angel Pagan. “We’ve already started playoffs… We’ve got to get it done.”

The G-Men will face a tall order in the form of Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw, who will be making his final start of the season before Los Angeles heads off to play the Washington Nationals in the NLDS.

Despite losing most of his season to a back injury, Kershaw has put up his usual tremendous numbers in 2016. To wit, he’s 12-3 with a 1.65 ERA in 21 starts this season, and since he returned from the DL he has posted a 0.86 ERA while striking out 23 batters against just one walk. Granted, his time on the mound has been heavily monitored by manager Dave Roberts (whose strict oversight of the pitch count is opposite to that of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has a tendency to let his starters go deep into ballgames), but Kershaw has been excellent when he’s been allowed to toe the rubber. It’s also likely the Kershaw will be allowed to go relatively deep into today’s ballgame, given that his activity has been ramping up since his return, probably in preparation for the NLDS.

Rookie Ty Blach will make his second career big league start and oppose Kershaw for the Giants. That’s kind of a big deal.

Bochy has a history of putting his players, especially his young pitchers, through what can be kindly referred to as “trial by fire,” and this is certainly one of those instances. In his first start, Blach replaced the injured Johnny Cueto and faced the San Diego Padres in a game that had playoff implications. The lefty allowed three runs through three complete innings, striking out three and walking four.

It’s shaping up to be a lovely afternoon at the yard. Clear skies and the marine perfume of McCovey Cove are two most notable factors concerning today’s setting. In other words, it’s a beautiful San Francisco Saturday, and AT&T Park looks ready for more playoff atmosphere baseball.

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