In a crucial battle between fringe playoff teams, the San Francisco Giants proved they are here for real, winning two of three from the Colorado Rockies, propelling them to a series win and widening the gap between them in the NL West standings. All three games were decided by a lone run, with final scores of 3-2, 1-0, and 9-8. The Rockies were not able to get the key hit they needed until the 9th inning of the final game, as DJ LaMahieu cranked a go-ahead 2-run homer off of Sam Dyson midway up the left field bleachers. In many ways, the final game of the series is analogous to the Giants season so far; battling back from falling behind to ultimately fall short in the end. The Giants admirably weathered punches but could not put them away.
The hero from game 2 of the series, Brandon Crawford, was invisible in the final game, going 0-5 and leaving two important runners in scoring position to end the 8th. Andrew McCutchen could not convert a runner on third and less than 2 out situation into a run in the 8th as well. The Giants had opportunities to put the game away and failed. The 9th inning is never safe only up by a single run. The opponent is one swing away from erasing the lead or taking the lead, as proven this afternoon.
It is also worth saying that I have never wanted Sam Dyson to be the closer. He was thriving in his role this season as a setup guy and had been struggling in the outings before Hunter Strickland quite literally fell apart. Not only was Dyson not fit for the 9th, Bruce Bochy has four other options to close games in Mark Melancon, Reyes Moranta, Will Smith, and Tony Watson. Three of them have been having significantly better years than Dyson and Melancon is being paid way too much money to be the 7th inning guy. See what the guy you are paying to pitch then 9th does and then look internally if it doesn’t work. I wish it did not take this game to oust Dyson from closer, but Bochy needed a nudge in the right direction it seems. My guess is that it’s closer by situation out of Smith, Watson, or Moronta. However, it would not necessarily surprise me if Bochy sticks with his guy one too many times like we have all become so familiar with.
This is not to say that the Giants are in a bad spot. Currently, they sit at 42-40, 2 games behind the second place Dodgers and 2 games out of a playoff spot. They have been playing great baseball heading into a key showdown with the first place Diamondbacks in Arizona. If the Giants can take the series, winning the division becomes a real possibility. Sitting at 5.5 games out of first place is not a whole lot at this point in the season, but 3.5 looks much better.
This 2018 Giants team reminds me a lot of the 2010 Giants team. They have young talent coupled with enough veteran pieces that got hurt to reveal even more young talent and a good amount of luck. That team won a championship after a late season collapse from the first place team and getting hot at just the right time. Folks, the Giants are hot, and it could be at just the right time.