The San Francisco Giants have an opportunity to put three games between themselves and one of their chief competitors for a National League wild-card spot when they go for a home sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon.
The Giants have dominated the first two games of the series on the mound. Rookie Kyle Harrison put on a dazzling performance in his home debut during a 4-1 win on Monday, before Alex Cobb was even better on Tuesday, coming within one out of a no-hitter in a 6-1 triumph.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler noted after the Tuesday game that Cobb wanted to complete his outing — and did so with a career-high 131 pitches — even after losing his place in history.
“He takes a lot of pride saving pitches and outs and innings for the bullpen, so I think this is going to be especially special for him,” Kapler said. “It’s not lost on anybody around here, and certainly not lost on the bullpen.
“Whether it was a no-hitter or a complete game, the outcome was going to be the same for the bullpen, getting a night off. That means a lot for all of us.”
Having passed Arizona for the third and final NL wild card-spot on Tuesday, the Giants will take the field for the series finale against Cincinnati a half-game up on the Diamondbacks and two games ahead of the Reds. Cincinnati has lost five of its past six games, all of which have been against Arizona and San Francisco.
In the series finale, the Giants will look for a fourth straight win as they send Logan Webb (9-10, 3.51 ERA) to the mound to duel the Reds’ Hunter Greene (2-6, 5.06) in a matchup of right-handers.
Webb did not get a start at Cincinnati on July 17, limiting the Reds to two runs and four hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He allowed home runs to Matt McLain and Jonathan India, a pair of infielders who are now on the injured list.
Webb, 26, is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Reds.
Greene has never faced the Giants. The 24-year-old is winless in two starts since returning from a right hip injury, bombed for a total of 14 runs (13 earned) in just 6 2/3 innings by the Toronto Blue Jays and the Diamondbacks.
After a tense series in Arizona in which the Reds put up eight runs in consecutive games on Friday and Saturday, the club has seen its bats go silenced. Cincinnati has managed a total of 11 hits in 4-2, 4-1 and 6-1 losses the past three days, the latter two in San Francisco.
Reds manager David Bell is hopeful exhaustion isn’t setting in on a young club that played its best baseball of the season in June (18-9) before sliding some in July (15-11) and now struggling in August (9-17).
“Fatigue is a factor for everyone at this point in the year,” Bell said. “We’re tracking everything. We’ve got to take everything into consideration. We also don’t want to take anything away from players, having the experience of playing when you’re fatigued, having the experience of playing important games when you don’t feel great all the time.”
–Field Level Media