There's that point in every season where the men get separated from the boys--the good teams pull away from the pack and the hunt for October glory begins in earnest. This year there are five teams within five games of the NL Wild Card (and two more within eight games), so maybe those "tipping points" we writers are so fond of are nothing more than column (er, blog) fodder. After all, Giants fans know damn well that seasons can be decided in the final week--anyone else remember 1982, 1993, and 2004? Our boys have shown some remarkable staying power, and yesterday's incredible win took the sting out of those two hideous losses. The Crockies have surged to within five games of the LAtriners, a team whose lead just a few weeks ago seemed insurmountable. I note that the other two division leaders, Philadelphia and St. Louis, are 4-1/2 games up in their respective divisions, an apparent dead-heat with LA for playoff chances. (Take a look here for some fancy-schmancy stat-work on "playoff odds.")
Giants fans know we've struggled on the road this season (23-32, .418), and that this 11-game road trip has that "make-or-break" feel to it. Most likely there's enough baseball left to overcome a stumbling, bumbling trip, especially since we'll have the bulk of our games at home (22 of 37) once we return to San Francisco on August 25th, but that kind of desperation September push might be too much to ask of any team in a playoff race with this many contenders. Just our luck that the NL West might have the two best win-percentage finishers in the league--who would have called that in April? So I think we'll have to come up with at least five wins and at least a split in Denver in order to keep our chances alive. The way it looks right now, Barry Zito will get three starts and Matt Cain will not face Colorado in the biggest showdown of the season. Zito has been effective and shown some mettle and consistency since the Break. I hope it continues, we will need it.
I've had more fun this season following the Orange and Black than I've had for a long time. The blogging has been a big part of that, and I want thank my blog-mates for all their terrific work. I also want to give a big shout-out to our regular readers, commenters, friends, followers and fellow bloggers for making this all go so well. You've all been great. It changes everything when you know people are reading! I started RMC on September 25, 2007--I never imagined so many folks would be connected to it after such a short time. I hope you'll stick with us. On a personal note, my work year begins Monday--my nose goes back to the grindstone full-time. It will be a more challenging year for me than I'm used to, and I expect I'll have a little less time for my religious devotion to the Giants. I plan to continue the daily posting, so no worries. Just as the pennant race is really heating up, I'll have to expend energy in other directions instead of indulging my baseball fix whenever I want. Ain't that life, though?
Gird those loins, mates. The real push starts tonight. Go Giants!