Just three weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants’ playoff aspirations were looking slim with the team spiraling down the standings.
Coming off another impressive victory, they’re suddenly in control of their postseason fate for the first time in two months.
The Giants look to continue their surge and win a fifth straight over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night at Chase Field.
With Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Diamondbacks, coupled with Cincinnati’s 7-1 loss to Washington, San Francisco (53-43) moved one-half game ahead of the Reds for the NL wild card. The Giants, who haven’t been alone atop the wild-card standings since they were 21-15 on May 16, also moved within three games of West-leading San Diego.
San Francisco, a season-high 10 games over .500, is in this position thanks to an NL-best 13-4 run since July 3. The Giants had dropped a season-worst seven in a row immediately before this stretch to fall behind five teams in the wild-card race and 4 1/2 games back of then-leading New York.
The pitching has keyed this turnaround with the team recording a 2.80 ERA in the last 17 games. Tim Lincecum(notes), Barry Zito(notes) and rookie Madison Bumgarner(notes) are leading the way, and Matt Cain(notes) and closer Brian Wilson(notes) limited Arizona to three hits in the series opener.
Sanchez (7-6, 3.42 ERA) has alternated good and bad performances in his last four starts, recording a 2.08 ERA in his two strong outings while posting a 9.35 ERA in the other two. Against the Mets on Sunday, the left-hander allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss.
Sanchez has fared well against the Diamondbacks lately, going 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in six starts against them since 2009. In his lone start of the season against Arizona on May 29, Sanchez gave up one run and two hits while striking out seven in five innings of a 12-1 victory.
San Francisco has outscored Arizona 26-6 in winning the last four meetings. The Giants haven’t won five straight over the Diamondbacks since a six-game streak in 2005.
Arizona (37-59) entered this series having won three straight over the Mets - its first three-game sweep of the season - but didn’t put up much of a fight in the opener.
“The Giants got two guys on with nobody out. They get them over and got them in. We didn’t do that when we had the same opportunity,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
Since throwing a no-hitter in Tampa Bay on June 25, Jackson is 1-2 with a 7.16 ERA in three outings. After losing to the Cubs on July 7 - his first defeat since May 28 - the right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to San Diego on Sunday.
Jackson made his first start against the Giants since 2004 on May 28, allowing three runs, four hits and five walks in seven innings of a 5-0 loss.