SAN FRANCISCO — A two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday cost Alex Cobb a hit and what would have been his second shutout of the season, but moments later, Cobb iced Eli De La Cruz for an easy win. It was a very big disaster for the Giants, and not just because of how it went down.
By winning the first two games of the series, the Giants clinched the tiebreaker against the Cincinnati Reds, a fellow Wild Card contender. They couldn’t get greedy, though, as they lost 4-1 on Wednesday.
The win over the Reds came just days after the Giants’ final-day win in Philadelphia, earning a tiebreaker advantage against the team currently leading the Wild Card race. The Giants will have a chance to continue this run over the next week.
They’re headed to San Diego, and it won’t matter who wins that season series. When Josh Hader gave up a homer on Wednesday in St. Louis, the disappointing Padres fell 10 games under .500.
But next week’s series in Chicago will have huge playoff implications. The Giants currently trail the Cubs by two games, who took two of three games at Oracle Park in June. The head-to-head record is used to break any ties under the new playoff format, and will be up for grabs at Wrigley Field.
The Giants currently hold a 6-5 advantage over the Diamondbacks with two games remaining next month in Phoenix. They have tied their season series with Miami, but the second tiebreaker is a record within the division and the Giants are on the cusp of getting that advantage over the Marlins, who faded to within three games of a playoff spot. With some good wins over the next few weeks, they could clinch a tiebreaker over every Wild Card field. Since MLB no longer plays extra games after 162 years, this could be crucial.
A week ago, it would have been hard to think too much about how the tiebreaker would impact the Giants at the end of the season, but they played much better baseball against the Reds, and with the way Cobb and Kyle Harrison threw this week, the Giants feel good about their prospects heading into the final month of the season.
Due in large part to the overall mediocrity of the Wild Card field, they remained right in the running despite struggling through the toughest part of their schedule. They can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, with Two Series Against the Rockies on the horizon after they’ve made it through this wild ride.
As his team prepared to board another flight, coach Gabe Kapler said he felt sentiment turning against the Reds. Cobb’s one-hit came a night after Harrison’s stunning home run debut, and Kapler was feeling good about his group even after another disappointing offensive performance on Wednesday. It was a far cry from the feeling that prevailed in the principal’s office at the end of The Last House.
“The momentum of the last few matches has not changed,” he said. “We’re going to take it to San Diego and erase this (loss) quickly and get on the plane and get ready for the Padres game.”
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