Giants look to shut door on Padres in NL West race

National Sports

The San Francisco Giants can formally eliminate the San Diego Padres from the National League West race, while at the same time hurt the visitors’ chances of landing an NL wild-card berth, when the rivals open a four-game series Monday night.

The clubs will take the field separated by 18 1/2 games, with 19 games left for the Giants (93-50) and 20 for the Padres (74-68).

Neither team was ready on Sunday to announce a starting pitcher for the series opener in what could turn into a bullpen game for each.

The Giants have more pressing concerns than eliminating San Diego from the division race. They have won seven in a row to go 2 1/2 games up on the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the West.

Six of the wins in San Francisco’s streak came on a just-completed trip to Colorado and Chicago, series the Giants swept by a total of 29-12 against the Rockies and 27-10 against the Cubs.

The Giants not only went 2-for-2 over the weekend against the Cubs, but successfully moved their top two pitchers — Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb — up a day apiece.

By doing so, Giants manager Gabe Kapler has positioned both potentially to pitch in the final series of the season, when his club, coincidentally, will be hosting the Padres again.

“I think this is much more about the step right in front of us,” Kapler said of the moves. “It’s not to say that we don’t see the rest of the staircase and that’s not part of our strategy, (but) most importantly is winning the next pitch, the next inning, the next game, and believing that that momentum matters.”

The Giants will see the Padres a total of 10 times over the final three weeks of the regular season, with the clubs also scheduled for a three-game set in San Diego next week.

San Francisco currently holds a 5-4 edge in the season series, having taken two of three in the most recent meeting — at home on May 7-9 — after splitting six games in San Diego earlier.

Most teams aren’t in a hurry to duel a division leader, but the Padres are probably looking forward to seeing someone other than the Dodgers.

Los Angeles completed a three-game home sweep with an 8-0 thumping of the Padres on Sunday, giving the Dodgers six straight wins over their Southern California neighbor.

The teams do have one more series remaining, that coming on the final week of the regular season, when the Padres finish with three at Los Angeles and three at San Francisco.

The Padres currently reside in the second NL wild-card spot, percentage points ahead of Cincinnati and one game up on St. Louis.

San Diego will begin the San Francisco series without shortstop Jake Cronenworth, who fractured his left ring finger in Friday’s loss to the Dodgers.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler was unwilling over the weekend to rule him out this entire week — the Padres visit St. Louis on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — nor even the entire Giants series.

“The concentration is going to be on getting that inflammation out of there, which will give him a little bit more range of motion when he’s gripping the bat,” Tingler explained. “But you really don’t know on the pain tolerance.

“When we get some of that inflammation out, I’m sure when he squares the ball up solid, there’s not going to be much issue. But if you get it off the end of the bat, you get the vibration of the bat.”

–Field Level Media

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