A roller-coaster season for the Giants comes down to the final day, as they’ll try to avoid having to play Game 163.
A refresher: With a win over the Dodgers, or a Cardinals loss to the Pirates, the Giants will clinch the second wild-card and fly to New York to play the Mets on Wednesday.
If the Giants lose and the Cardinals win Sunday, the teams will play a tiebreaker game in St. Louis on Monday to determine the second wild-card entrant. The Giants would like to avoid having to make that trip and preserve their pitching for the wild-card game and possibly beyond.
Giants players had luggage at their lockers Sunday morning. They don’t know the length of the trip they’re taking, but they’re definitely flying somewhere after tonight.
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"They’re packed for a road trip," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I’ll leave it at that."
Matt Moore is starting Sunday’s game for the Giants, and Bochy said the only pitcher he wants to stay away from using -- aside from Ty Blach, obviously, who started Saturday -- is Madison Bumgarner. The Giants’ ace threw a bullpen session on Sunday morning, as he prepares to start the wild-card game should the Giants get there.
Bochy also indicated he would like to stay away from whoever would start Monday’s tie-breaker game, though he did not say whether that would be Jeff Samardzija or Johnny Cueto, who would be going on three days’ rest. Cueto could start with Samardzija lined up behind him. But again, the Giants could avoid all that by clinching Sunday.
They could do that simply by getting help from the Pirates. And starting for Pittsburgh in their finale is none other than Ryan Vogelsong, the former Giant. Bochy acknowledged the irony.
"I mean, here’s a guy that’s won so many games for us, and he’s going today," he said. "But I’ve said this -- it’s in our hands and it’s up to us to take care of business."
For all their second-half struggles, the Giants have closed the season strong. They have won three straight and four of five games on their final homestand to put themselves in position to control their playoff fate on the final day of the season. Or so they hope.
"You look at the pitching, the defense, the timely hitting, this is more like who we are," Bochy said. "Some things are hard to explain in this game."
The Giants’ lineup for the finale:
And the Dodgers’ lineup: