Friday night's SF Giants win over the visiting Dodgers was solid, but the 9-3 score could be seen as chiefly due to the Dodgers auditioning a possible starting pitcher for the playoffs, and leaving him in too long in the sixth inning, when the Giants scored 7 quick runs, including a three-run homer by Brandon Belt. Though he had two bad stretches, Madison Bumgarner was dominant, finally winning his 100th career game.
But Saturday's win was classic. It pitted one of the great pitchers now in baseball and the Dodger's ace, against a rookie with one previous start, and he didn't get past the third inning in that.
Clayton Kershaw was sharp, but Ty Blach was better. He pitched a three-hit shutout for eight complete. The Giants' new closer--who was also their old closer before Casilla--Sergio Romo made quick work of the ninth. Angel Pagan's homer off Kershaw (Pagan is the club leader for the tragic after the All Star season) was enough, as the Giants won 3-0. Ty Blach also got two hits. He's only the second pitcher to ever get two hits off Kershaw in a game.
Unfortunately the Pirates haven't contributed, as the Cards beat them easily on Friday, but had to come from behind to win Saturday 3-2. So the Giants have held on to their one game lead for the second wild card spot. If they win on Sunday or the Cards lose, they're in. If they lose and the Cards win, these two teams are tied and play one game in St. Louis on Monday to break it.
The Cards had won their game on Saturday while the Giants-Dodgers were still scoreless. But Sunday, the last day of the regular season, all MLB games will start at the same time, high noon in SF. The Giants will again be working against the stats--Dodger pitcher Maeda hasn't lost at AT&T Park this season.
Announcer Mike Krukow made an excellent point about Saturday's game: a lot of credit should go to catcher Buster Posey for his work with the rookie pitcher, pacing the game, calling the pitches, keeping him focused and confident. Nobody in baseball is better at this, Mike said.
Looking forward, I'm not sure if Blach is eligible for the playoffs, but if he is, the Giants suddenly have five starters with the proven capability of shutting down a quality opponent. It's still hard to see anybody getting past the Cubs this year, but it's one game at a time for the Giants from here to wherever.