The San Francisco Giants bring their countdown to a National League West title to their home fans Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Thanks to having gone 5-1 on a trip to San Diego and Colorado while the Los Angeles Dodgers (100-56) were going just 4-2 on the road against the Rockies and Diamondbacks, the Giants (102-54) will take a two-game lead into the final six games of the season.
The Giants’ magic number to clinch their first NL West title since 2012 is five, a number that could shrink by two should they handle the Diamondbacks (50-106) on Tuesday night.
With the hopes that this will be his final regular-season start, the Giants will send their top pitcher, right-hander Logan Webb (10-3, 3.04 ERA), to the mound in the series opener to duel Diamondbacks righty Luke Weaver (3-6, 4.38).
Webb, who hasn’t suffered a loss since May 5, would be in line to start Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres should the game have significance for the Giants.
If San Francisco already has clinched the West — or been passed and eliminated by the Dodgers (who kick off a three-game series vs. San Diego on Tuesday) — then Webb likely would be pushed back to pitch the postseason opener.
The Giants hope to have first baseman Brandon Belt back by then. While attempting to bunt, he was hit in the left hand by a Lucas Gilbreath pitch during Sunday’s 6-2 win at Colorado and had to be removed from the game. X-rays were planned on Monday.
“It’s scary because there are so many little bones in there that could break,” veteran teammate Brandon Crawford observed. “You need your hands. They’re pretty important in baseball, especially his throwing hand. That’s scary, but from talking to him, he seems like he should be all right and hopefully not miss too much time.”
Despite a subpar effort his last time out at San Diego, Webb extended his unbeaten streak to 18 games, during which he’s gone 9-0 and the team has gone 16-2.
He has yet to face the Diamondbacks this season, leaving him with a 2-0 career record (two starts) and 2.25 ERA to take up against them in the series opener.
Weaver likewise has yet to see the Giants this year. He’s lost his last three decisions, allowing nine earned runs in 15 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers, Dodgers and Braves.
The 28-year-old has gone 3-3 with a 3.16 ERA in six lifetime starts against San Francisco.
The Diamondbacks will play out the string without starting shortstop Nick Ahmed, who has been bothered by a sore left shoulder.
In his place, Arizona might have unveiled their double-play combination of the future Sunday in a 3-0 home loss to the Dodgers, with highly regarded prospect Geraldo Perdomo taking over at shortstop while Ketel Marte, who has played mostly outfield this season, was making his eight consecutive start at second base.
Perdomo had a single and a walk in three plate appearances Sunday in his first big-league game since a cameo in April.
Ahmed, meanwhile, could have a say in who plays where next season. He says not playing this week will give him more time to talk strategy with manager Torey Lovullo, who last week was given a contract extension through the 2022 season.
“He and I and some other people have had a lot of conversations about how we can get our team and our organization better,” Ahmed disclosed. “Knowing that he’s coming back, we’re going to have further conversations. I just have a bunch of ideas to share on things we can do better. Hopefully, we’ll get those things operating and we’ll be in a better spot next year.”
–Field Level Media