San Francisco Giants have no margin for error going into the postseason and got off to an ideal start with a 5-2 victory in 13 innings over division leaders Los Angeles Dodgers last night.
Andrew Susac and Gregor Blanco were the stars of the show as both managed run-scoring hits to hand the Giants victory and cut the Dodger’s lead in the National League West division to 3.5 games.
The home side have already clinched the minimum of a Wild Card berth with their 89-68 season record but still have work to do if they want to take the title ahead of the Giants.
The Giants are just two games away from also grabbing their playoff place, as they sit level with Pittsburgh on 85-71 and five games ahead of Milwaukee Brewers.
It is a safe enough bet that these two will make the postseason but in what order still remains to be seen. If the Giants can dig in and perform like they did last night for the rest of the week, then it could be the Dodgers who take to the Wild Card playoff.
Susac’s pinch-hit in the 13th inning broke the deadlock as Brandon Belt scampered home, which was quickly followed by Blanco’s double to see Susac and Crawford round off the 5-2 victory.
Credit must also be given to the Giants pitching effort which nullified the Dodgers offence from the sixth inning onwards.
San Francisco raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to Blancos first-up home run and Joe Panik’s sacrificial punt in the third to see Blanco home. The Dodgers clawed their way back through a two-run fifth inning push. Carl Crawford’s homer was followed up by Dee Gordon’s sacrificed fly ball to see Juan Uribe home.
Starting pitcher Jake Peavy gave his team a platform to work from by conceding just two runs in his seven innings.
Jean Machi and Santiago Casilla tossed two innings each without a fuss before rookie reliever Hunter Strickland closed the game. The 25-year-old made his major league debut on September 1 and recorded his first MLB save by striking out two and grounding out the third.
This defeat heaped huge pressure on the Dodgers to win the remaining two games in the series and secure the title in front of the Giants.
If the Giants do manage a clean sweep of the three game series the Dodgers will still posses a 1.5 game advantage as they head into their final series of the season, three games at Dodger Stadium against the struggling Colorado Rockies.