Giants, Dodgers facing crucial seriesBy Matt Verderame
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are in the throws of the best pennant race Major League Baseball has to offer. Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are tied while the Dodgers lead the Giants by a game going into Monday’s action, but the National League teams are better.
The race out west matters more, and it is between two of the oldest rivals in the game. Of course, the rivalry spawned on the East Coast, when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Giants were inhabiting the Polo Ground in Manhattan.
On Monday, the two foes start a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. For the Giants, they are trying to win the series and pull even in the division. The Dodgers are hoping to extend the advantage as they move toward September. The pitching matchups favor San Francisco with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore going against Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Brett Anderson.
Both teams are in fine position to make the playoffs. Los Angeles (69-55) and San Francisco (68-56) are going to get into the National League postseason barring a complete collapse. Whoever wins the division will be fighting with the Washington Nationals for the second see, while the NL West loser will likely be the host in the NL Wild Card Game.
The Giants are better equipped to handle the one-game suspense. San Francisco has a terrific pitching staff and could trot out either Moore, Cueto, Bumgarner or Jeff Samardzija. Whichever trio does not get the call would be able to start the first three games of the NL Division Series, provided the Giants advance. If Clayton Kershaw were healthy, the Dodgers would be the perfect team for such a scenario, with few pitchers in baseball history more dominant than the 28-year-old southpaw.
This series will be the last times these two contenders hook up until Sept. 19 when Chavez Revine once again welcomes San Francisco is for a three-game set. The end of the regular season also brings the two teams together – this time in AT&T Park – for what could be an epic drama.
Regardless of who ends up winning the West, this is what MLB needs more of. Two iconic franchises battling at a high level for the best chance at a pennant, while the other is entering a one-game, live-or-die scenario. In a 162-game season, the sport can get boring for weeks at a time. The Dodgers and Giants are bucking that trend.
With nine games left against each other, this race will get crazier before it sorts itself out.