The Giants pulled off a win over the Reds in Game 144 to finish their 8th seasonal inning. Brandon Belt and Matt Duffy were the hitting stars and Belt flashed some impressive leather as well. I have to say I was also impressed by the work of SS Ehire Adrianza who made a number of Crawfordian grabs and throws. He looks like he's playing with more confidence. The bullpen got it done after Tim Hudson was yanked in the 5th. Here's the seasonal story so far:
1st inning: 7-11
2nd inning: 11-7
3rd inning: 12-6
4th inning: 8-10
5th inning: 9-9
6th inning: 12-6
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 9-9
The Giants have won four in a row and seven of their last ten. It's a nice little surge but it's not helping: they are still 7-1/2 back in the West race. Los Angeles has an iron grip on first place going 8-2 in their last ten and 13-4 in their nearly-completed 8th inning. The Dodgers are 32-21 since the Break which bests the Giants 30-25. They went 15-12 in August while the Giants managed only 13-16. September's record is 10-3 while the Giants are at 7-6. No matter how you slice it they've played better ball. And the three-game sweep (August 31-September 2) turned the tide. It was almost as if that series was the Zeroth Round of the Playoffs! At this point the Giants can't really afford to lose any more games. The odds of going 18-0 are pretty damn long, but it's pretty damn close to what they'll have to do. The only realistic scenario is to get within four games by Monday the 28th and then pull off a sweep in the penultimate series at home. LA's magic number is 12. I don't want to contemplate them clinching at AT&T in that stretch of games.
Looks like wunderkind Joe Panik is done for the season. Such a shame. In 100 games he raked to the tune of .312/.378/.455 which translates to a 130 OPS+, 137 wRC+, and a .363 wOBA which is second only to Ben Zobrist for second basemen with 400+ PAs. Add in his glove and he rates 4.1 fWAR (3.1 BB-Ref WAR). That's great work over a full season let alone only 60% of one. I hope this back issue can get resolved in the off-season. The Giants need him at the keystone for 2016 and beyond.
Speaking of 2016, another fellow who is important to the cause is pitching tonight--Chris Heston. He threw 173 innings in 28 starts in the PCL last year. This season in the bigs he's just shy of 160 IP in his 27 starts. With some improved health and fitness (and a better idea what a full major-league season entails) he will likely be counted on for 2+ WAR. What he has done this year is comparable to what the Padres got from James Shields! Get right the rest of the way and get ready for next year Hest-o, the team needs you.