The San Francisco Giants kick off one of their most important homestands of the season Monday night when they host the San Diego Padres in the opener of a three-game set.
Sitting 7 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot in the National League with just 36 games remaining, the Giants get a shot at two of the teams ahead of them when they face the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies (also for three games) this week.
The Padres hold the third NL wild-card spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, whom the Giants would also have to surpass. The Phillies own the second wild-card, 2 1/2 games up on the Padres.
The Giants are coming off a disastrous eight-game trip; they lost two of three at Colorado, split a pair at Detroit and dropped three straight at Minnesota. They have now lost eight of 10 overall following a five-game winning streak during their last homestand.
This series begins the final six meetings of the season between the NL West rivals. They also are scheduled to duel in San Diego on the final three days of the regular season.
The key series begins with two starting pitchers who have handled Monday’s opponent well in small sample sizes in the past.
The Giants have scheduled left-hander Carlos Rodon (12-6, 2.81 ERA), who is unbeaten in his last five starts. He’s 4-0 in the span, having allowed just five runs in 31 1/3 innings while striking out 41.
Rodon has faced the Padres twice this season, the first two times he’s seen them in his career, going 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings. He gave up two runs in six innings in a hard-luck, 2-1 home loss in May before throwing a complete game with 12 strikeouts in a 3-1 win at San Diego in July.
If there’s good news for Rodon, it’s that the Padres don’t have an off day on Monday. Hot-hitting San Diego outfielder Wil Myers collected five hits, including two home runs, in the just-concluded three-games series in Kansas City, during which he explained his power surge.
“Played golf on the off day,” said Myers, noting his activity Thursday in Kansas City leading into his first homers since May 13 at Atlanta. “I played golf before the home run in Atlanta, too.”
Rodon is to be opposed by Padres righty Mike Clevinger (4-5, 3.59), who has faced the Giants just twice in his career, going 1-0 with no runs allowed in 13 innings.
He was brilliant both times, allowing just one unearned run in six innings for Cleveland at San Francisco in 2017, before shutting out the Giants on two hits over seven innings in a 2020 win in San Diego.
Clevinger likely is comforted to know that he won’t have to deal with one of the Giants’ hottest hitters, third baseman Evan Longoria, who had to leave Sunday’s 8-3 loss at Minnesota with recurring soreness in a troublesome right hamstring. He has already ruled himself out of Monday’s game.
“It was good coming into the game. Sometimes I just try to push it a little bit,” said Longoria, who had hits in three of his previous six starts before going 1-for-3 on Sunday. “I’m hoping that it’s not anything serious. I don’t think it is. It’s pretty sore right now, but just try to stay hopeful.”
–Field Level Media