Giants holding off more celebrated NL West rivals
The Associated Press
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.
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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.