Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pirates, Giants: Towards Defining Moments

Sunday Update: The Pirates enacted revenge on the Brewers with their own 1-0 victory to take the series.  However, they can't prevent the Cardinals from winning the division by continuing to win games.

The punchless Giants again wasted innings of strong starting pitching and ultimately collapsed in an 8-2 loss to the Padres, to complete the San Diego sweep.  Bochy did play two rookies in an effort to shake up the lineup but not successfully.  The Giants are now in danger of being overtaken by the Pirates for the first wild card slot.  A lot can still happen to both teams, but the Giants face three games against the division leading Dodgers in LA, at a very low point in their season.  

By sweeping the Red Sox and winning the first game against the Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates pretty much assured themselves a post-season slot.  But by losing the second game to the Brewers while the Cardinals continued to win, the odds are heavily against them in terms of the Central Division lead.  The Brewers 1-0 victory may prove expensive however as they sent two fast balls to hit Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, solidly both times.  It's a loser's kind of ugliness, as the Brewers are probably out of it.

Meanwhile the Padres are indeed playing the spoiler role for the Giants as I feared, and the Giants loss of leadoff hitter Angel Pagan has rendered the lineup dangerously askew.  Thanks also to the absence of power hitter Michael Morse, producing runs is a struggle, even with the excellent pitching they got on Saturday. Having lost the first two games of the series, and facing a schedule of nothing but the Padres and the Dodgers, the Giants could fall back even beyond the first wild card.  They could conceivably miss the postseason completely, although my math is pretty shaky on wild card combinations.  And if Pagan can't come back--a real possibility--the postseason might be pretty short anyway.  It's time for Bruce Bochy to take some chances with his lineup and insert a rookie in center field and perhaps elsewhere to try to shake things up and get some runs.

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