One team playing with urgency meets another playing for luxury when the San Francisco Giants and visiting San Diego Padres get a double dose of one another Friday to kick off a regular-season-ending, four-game series.
The Giants (28-28) dropped out of the lead in the National League wild-card race Thursday with a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Colorado Rockies.
They will take the field Friday wrestling with St. Louis, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia and Milwaukee for the two wild-card spots, with the NL Central and East teams also battling each other for second place and automatic playoff positions.
Meanwhile, the Padres (34-22) have clinched second place in the NL West behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and need just one more St. Louis loss in its final four games to be assured of the No. 4 playoff spot in the NL and home-field advantage in the first round.
San Diego had Thursday off and thus was able to slot a pair of regulars — right-handers Dinelson Lamet (3-1, 2.07 ERA) and Chris Paddack (4-4, 4.23) — into the doubleheader starting spots. Giants manager Gabe Kapler announced Thursday that he would left his Game 2 slot open after he starts left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-3, 4.53) in the opener.
With little or nothing to play for in the series, Padres manager Jayce Tingler noted he will use the three days to accomplish multiple goals.
“There certainly will be a little bit of balance — doing the best you can to keep everybody healthy, also respecting the rhythm and timing that need to go on at the plate and all areas of the game,” he said. “We’re constantly talking about it. Those will be three emphasis points going forward.”
Among some individual goals at stake over the final four games are the Padres’ homer king and whether Jake Cronenworth and/or Wil Myers can finish with .300 hitting seasons.
Manny Machado (16), Fernando Tatis Jr. (15) and Myers (14) are dueling for the homer distinction, as well as possible NL leadership.
In a combined 26 career plate appearances, none of the aforementioned Padres has ever homered off the Giants’ Anderson, who has gone 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA in eight career games, including seven starts, against San Diego.
Cronenworth will take a .304 average into the series as he bids to become just the second Padres rookie ever to hit .300 in a season. Catcher Benito Santiago won the 1987 Rookie of the Year award when he finished at an even .300.
Myers, meanwhile, comes in at .291. He has never hit .300 in his eight-year big-league seasons, with his career-best mark of .293 coming as a rookie in 2013.
In the doubleheader, the Giants will have to deal with two guys who have been tough on them. Lamet has started three games against San Francisco, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, while Paddack has gone 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts.
The Giants welcomed back Mike Yastrzemski from his strained calf in a pinch-hitting role Thursday and hope to have him in the lineup at some point in this series.
Kapler spent time postgame Thursday attempting to convince his guys that bad luck, rather than a lack of trying, was the downfall in the critical extra-inning defeat.
“It wasn’t in the cards today,” he said. “It seemed like a couple of moments there didn’t go in our direction. We fought to the very end.”
–Field Level Media