CLINCH WATCH 2021 – Dodgers Chances Hinge on Padres Successes – 9/16/2021
Padres Split Series with Giants
Ok, Padres. I see you. Looks like slipping out of the wildcard spot did exactly what we all hoped it would, light a fire under the Friars.
The Padres had a bullpen game with an opener in Pierce Johnson before Nabil Crismatt came in for four more shutout innings. After that, it was a bit of a mad scramble, with all but one reliever giving up a single run. Even so, four wasn’t enough for the Giants to overcome the Padres.
Once again it was successful small ball that put the Padres on top. Tatís Jr. put up a solo homer in the top of the third, the rest of the runs came on singles, doubles, and good base running. The Padres put up three runs in the top of the 8th, widening the lead significantly, but Giants pitcher Sammy Long did manage to pick off Manny Machado to stop the bleeding.
San Francisco bats weren’t exactly cold, but runners were not as successful on the basepath. Starter Kevin Gausman was rung up for four earned runs in eight hits in five innings, one of which was that Tatís Jr. home run. Reliever Tony Watson pitched that eighth inning and gave up three runs on four hits before he was pulled from the game.
The Giants and Padres will face off six more times this season and if you think the Dodgers won’t be scoreboard watching during those games, think again. Right now, the Padres are the best non-Dodger challengers to the Giants for the rest of the season. Right now, Dodger fate might just hinge on the Padres needing to claw their way back into the wildcard spot.
Funnily enough, the Padres head to Busch Stadium later today to take on the current wildcard spot holder, the St. Louis Cardinals. Should be a spirited debate to say the least. The Giants stay home to host the Atlanta Braves, who as you’ll read below, are coming off of an unexpected off-day.
Padres improve to 76-70. Giants move to 95-52.
Rockies/Braves Game Postponed Due to Weather
The Rockies stood poised to sweep the current NL East division leader in three games when the weather gods intervened and the game postponed. Thing is, no one’s quite sure at the moment when the game will be played.
If Atlanta wasn’t the current NL East leader, things might be different. They might just not play it. But the Phillies are currently only three games back. It’s possible this game might need to be played to establish standings. On top of that, the Rockies and Braves have no more off days scheduled together, so tentatively pencil in October 4th as a make-up game if it’s needed.
It’s worth noting that the Braves, Padres, Cardinals, and Reds are all coming into today’s games with the same number of wins: 76. Only Atlanta sits atop their division with that number. Their division has the smallest number of games between first and last in the division.
I’ve been doing some thinking and, well….is that better for baseball? Record-wise, the NL East is rather evenly matched and has been for most of the season. Is that better for the sport as a whole than these Giant and Dodger record blow-outs?
A more competitive division means closer records, which means few wins for the leaders. But more hope for fans of teams in the lower ranks. We’ve seen what the possibility for a division win can do for a fanbase. Tease Padres fans all you like, but the energy and spirit (and cashflow for swag chains) has been good for San Diego’s bottom line.
Draft slots, competitive balance taxes, there are efforts to make teams as evenly matched as possible. It’s not exactly working. But these have been issues in baseball since its inception.
Anyways, I guess what I’m getting at is if the fourth place team from one division (almost) sweeps the first place team from another one, maybe it’s not so much that the teams are evenly ranked as that the teams kinda suck a little. Some of them intentionally.
Rockies remain at 68-78 and head to D.C. to take on the Nationals, also an NL East team, at home. The Braves wing their way to the coast to play San Francisco. Hopefully these two division leaders will be evenly matched, but I think there’s more wishing than actual hope there.
The Diamondback Still A Team
And they had an off day yesterday as well. Tonight, they’ll pit Madison Bumgarner (how mad is HE about this Giants season, I wonder?) against Brandon Bielak of the Houston Astros.
Side note, I’m so glad that the Giants have resumed their rightful place as the villain of the story. That 2017 Astros team will forever be on my shitlist, no matter where they go (I haven’t forgotten, Max Stassi) but since there’s no chance for them to ever rightfully be punished by MLB, I’d rather they fade into deep obscurity to be remembered only as unrepentant cheaters who otherwise buzz like flies around our heads, annoying and easily squashed. No forgiveness or forgetting, but also not spending the energy on them when the true rival is finally worthy once more.
The best revenge is a life well-lived and baby the Dodgers are thriving.