The San Francisco Giants may have waited a week too long to make a run in the NL West, but they’re certainly doing their part to make the season’s home stretch interesting after all.
An upcoming series against the division leaders could ultimately decide if San Francisco has a chance to defend its World Series title, but first it’ll try to win a season-high eighth straight game Sunday afternoon at Coors Field by sending Matt Cain(notes) to the hill against the Colorado Rockies.
The Giants (82-70) were 9 1/2 games behind Arizona on Sept. 10, and their situation was looking particularly dire after totaling two runs during a three-game losing streak.
Over the past seven days, an often-dormant offense has finally reappeared. San Francisco has averaged 6.4 runs during its week-long winning streak, with a four-run eighth inning proving to be just enough to get past Colorado 6-5 on Saturday.
The Giants are suddenly within five games of the Diamondbacks, whose 3-1 loss at San Diego on Saturday was their third in a row.
“We’ve just got to go out there and try to win ballgames,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s pretty simple at this point. And obviously, we need some help.”
Santiago Casilla(notes) closed out Saturday’s win - his third save in four games - but San Francisco could see a familiar face on the mound Sunday if it has a lead in the ninth. All-Star closer Brian Wilson(notes), who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 15 due to elbow inflammation, is expected to be activated from the disabled list for the series finale.
That’s particularly good news with a potentially season-defining series at Chase Field looming next weekend, but for now the Giants will concentrate on trying to finish their first four-game sweep at Coors Field since Aug. 26-29, 2002.
They’ve won just three of Cain’s nine starts since the start of August, but one of those was Tuesday against San Diego. Cain (11-10, 2.79 ERA) gave up one run over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 12-inning victory.
Cain has a 2.65 ERA in 15 home starts versus Colorado (70-81), but his ERA in 10 outings at Coors Field is a less-impressive 4.01. He gave up six runs and nine hits over a season-low 4 2-3 innings in a 10-2 loss there April 20.
The right-hander, though, has had his way with two of the Rockies’ better bats. Seth Smith(notes) is 1 for 22 against Cain, while Carlos Gonzalez(notes) - who didn’t play Friday or Saturday and could sit again Sunday with a wrist injury - is 4 for 27.
Esmil Rogers(notes) (6-5, 5.88) will take the mound for Colorado. After a dismal five-start stretch in which he went 0-4 with a 6.83 ERA, Rogers settled down Tuesday in a tough environment. The right-hander held Milwaukee to one run over six innings of a contest the Rockies lost 2-1 in 11 at Miller Park.
“He pitched aggressively. He pitched effectively,” manager Jim Tracy said. “He gave us a great effort. There is not one thing to complain about.”
There’s been plenty for Rockies fans to complain about when Rogers pitches at home. He is 1-2 with a 9.86 ERA in five games at Coors, where opponents are hitting .398 against him.
One of those starts was an 8-1 loss to the Giants on April 18, when he gave up eight runs and six hits - three homers - over three innings. Overall, Rogers is 0-2 with a 10.06 ERA in five games - three starts - San Francisco.