With all apologies to the fans who spent large sums of money to attend one of the last two games of the regular season (or both), these games mean absolutely nothing to the Giants. That doesn’t mean this weekend is meaningless, just that the important stuff is happening at other ballparks.
Who the Giants will play
— The Cardinals’ magic number is two to clinch the NL Central.
— The Pirates are locked up in a 6-6 game with the Reds in the eighth inning (as of 12:56 pm PT).
— The Cardinals face the D-Backs this evening. The D-Backs are awful, but they just fired Kirk Gibson so it’s very possible that they’ve improved mightily in the last 48 hours.
— The Giants will probably play in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but there’s still a (very slight) chance they’ll head to St. Louis.
— Francisco Liriano threw 96 pitches in five innings today, so there’s no way the Giants will see Liriano in Wednesday.
— Gerritt Cole is scheduled to pitch tomorrow against Johnny Cueto, who’s going for his 20th win. If the Pirates are still alive in the divisional race tomorrow, Clint Hurdle will have a decision to make — start Cole in hopes that the D-Backs pull off a Sunday upset in a game that starts three hours after the Pirates-Reds game, or save Cole for the Giants (or a one-game playoff with the Cardinals on Monday to decide the NL Central).
What if Cole pitches tomorrow or Monday?
— The Giants could face Vance Worley, who last pitched Friday. Worley pitched a four-hit shutout against the Giants on July 28. In 18 games (17 starts), Worley has the lowest ERA (2.85) and second-lowest FIP (3.44) in the Pirates’ rotation.
— Edinson Volquez — who hasn’t faced the Giants this season — is also an option. His FIP is 4.15, but he has a 3.04 ERA for the season and his ERA is 1.63 over 11 starts in August and September.
What if the Cardinals choke away the division and end up in the Wild Card game against the Giants?
— The Giants would travel to St. Louis and probably face Michael Wacha, who pitched last night and threw six shutout innings against the Giants on May 31. Lance Lynn goes today in Phoenix, with Adam Wainwright scheduled to pitch tomorrow’s game if needed.
The most likely scenario has the Giants facing either Cole or Worley in Pittsburgh. Does Bruce Bochy care where or who the Giants end up playing?
“No,” he said. “And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
— Today’s outfield is Chris Dominguez in left, Gary Brown(!) in center and Juan Perez in right. Hunter Pence only cares about winning World Series rings, so he doesn’t mind a bit that his consecutive starts streak ends today at 331 games.
— Besides Jake Peavy (who’s dealing with “the crud,” so his day may be on the short side), Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, it’s all bench guys. Matt Duffy is in for Joe Panik at second base, Andrew Susac is behind the plate (Buster Posey gets his second day off in a row), and Joaquin Arias is at third in place of Pablo Sandoval.
— Chris Heston starts tomorrow. Tim Lincecum will pitch out of the bullpen either today or tomorrow, undoubtedly to loud applause from the fans.
“If (tomorrow’s) game could’ve determined what was going to happen, Timmy would’ve had the start,” Bochy said.
— I asked Lincecum about the standing ovations he seems to get whenever he comes in from the bullpen. The AT&T Park crowd has been known to go crazy whenever Lincecum trots to the mound, even if the pitcher he’s replacing just gave up a crooked number.
“It’s always a confidence boost,” said Lincecum. “You feed off it. I’m that kind of guy, an emotional pitcher, and I take that out there with me.”
— Bochy sounds like he’s leaning toward including Lincecum on the postseason roster, either for Wednesday or the NLDS if they get there.
“I think his last couple outings, certainly a confidence booster for him,” Bochy said. “When you have a guy like Timmy, you don’t know. He’s such a weapon. When you get to the postseason, your adrenaline is really going. That worked for Timmy in the previous postseason.”