The postseason is still more than six weeks away, but the next 10 days could have considerable implications on the NL playoff picture.
Separated by two games, the wild card-leading Colorado Rockies look to push San Francisco further out of the playoff race, while the Giants try to close the gap in the opener of a four-game series Friday night at Coors Field, the first of seven meetings in the next 10 days.
The Rockies (68-53) and Giants (66-55) have jockeyed for the wild-card spot since the start of July, with neither team unable to create much separation in the standings.
That could change if one team can get on a hot streak.
Colorado and San Francisco, which have split their first eight games, meet again next weekend for a three-game series at AT&T Park.
While the Rockies lead the wild card, they are also in the thick of the division race, 3 1/2 games back of NL West-leading Los Angeles. Between the two series against San Francisco this week, they play three home games against the Dodgers.
“Why should our sights only be set on the wild card? Play, and see what happens,” Colorado manager Jim Tracy said after Thursday’s 4-1 win at Washington. “Let’s go for the division.”
The Rockies return home riding a four-game winning streak and have won eight of 11.
The Giants arrive at Coors Field after having a three-game winning streak end with Thursday’s 2-1, 10-inning loss to Cincinnati.
San Francisco’s offense is suddenly slumping, scoring two total runs while leaving 18 runners on base in its last two games after totaling 18 runs in the first two games of the winning streak.
“We’ve been in a funk here and we’re going to have to get out of it real soon,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cook was tagged for a season-high seven runs and eight hits with three walks in 2 1-3 innings of a 10-3 loss to Florida on Sunday. The sinkerballer has now lost consecutive starts after going 7-0 with a 2.97 ERA in his previous 11 outings.
During that winning stretch, Cook limited the Giants to two runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 4-2 victory on July 26. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts against San Francisco since 2007.
The Giants counter with Jonathan Sanchez(notes) (5-10, 4.49), who allowed two runs, four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, but didn’t get a decision.
The left-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts after permitting five runs, five hits and four walks in five innings of an 8-2 loss at Colorado on July 25. Sanchez has posted an 8.80 ERA in losing his last three starts against the Rockies.