The San Francisco Giants hope to continue what would be a miraculous run to the National League playoffs when they go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon.
After losing seven in a row, including three straight to the San Diego Padres to open their current homestand, the defending National League West champions found themselves 10 1/2 games out of the final NL wild-card spot with just 33 games remaining.
But two wins over the Phillies, who began the series 11 games up on the Giants and in the second NL wild-card position, have trimmed the deficit to a more reasonable nine with 31 remaining, including the clubs’ final head-to-head of the season Sunday.
“We’ll take every game seriously,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler insisted after the win, one he credited to a big crowd that he believes hasn’t given up hope. “There was quite a bit of energy (in the stands). It had a middle-of-the-summer, right-in-the-thick-of-the-race vibe to it. We want to put the best possible product on the field each and every night.”
The first two games of the series couldn’t have been more different, with the Giants finishing a 13-1 laugher on Friday with outfielder Luis Gonzalez on the mound, before needing to extend closer Camilo Doval for four outs to hold on for a 5-4 victory Saturday.
The Phillies were their own worst enemy on Saturday. In the field, starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard and first baseman Rhys Hoskins made errors that allowed Giants runs to score. At the plate, Philadelphia stranded eight baserunners, including the potential tying run at third in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Phillies were hampered by the absence of Nick Castellanos, who felt a twinge in his right oblique in Friday’s game and was sent for an MRI on Saturday.
No medical results were announced, other than Castellanos reporting before the MRI that he was hoping it was just a cramp.
“I passed all my strength tests and all those things, so if there is anything it’s going to be pretty minor,” he predicted. “We’ll see. I’ve never dealt with any muscle stuff before in my career, so we’ll go get a picture and see what it looks like.”
The Giants will send out left-hander Carlos Rodon (12-7, 3.03) in search of the sweep. He had won four of five starts, allowing two or fewer runs in each, before serving up five runs in a 6-5 home loss to the Padres at the start of the homestand Monday.
The 29-year-old will be making just his third career start against the Phillies, having gone 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in the first two. That includes having limited the Phillies to just one earned run in five innings, but getting no decision, in an eventual 6-5 road loss in June.
Philadelphia lefty Ranger Suarez (8-5, 3.42) got a no-decision in the earlier head-to-head in Philadelphia, after allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 7-4 home loss.
He’s faced the Giants a total of five times in his career, four times in relief, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
The 27-year-old is unbeaten in his last eight starts, a stretch during which his ERA has dropped from 4.33 to 3.42. He has prevented the opponent from scoring an earned run in four of those starts.
–Field Level Media
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