The San Francisco Giants can bolster their playoff chances while also formally eliminating the visiting Colorado Rockies from contention when the National League West clubs meet for a final time on Thursday afternoon.
By virtue of two consecutive wins over the Rockies after a series-opening loss on Monday, the Giants (28-27) are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals (27-26) and the Cincinnati Reds (29-28) in the NL wild-card race.
The Cardinals and Reds are tied for second in the NL Central, and the top two teams from each division will receive automatic playoff berths.
The Philadelphia Phillies (28-29) and Milwaukee Brewers (27-28) loom just one game behind in the battle for the final two playoff spots in the NL.
The regular season ends Sunday.
The Rockies (24-31) have fallen four games behind the Giants and Reds with just five to play.
Rockies right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-2, 7.53 ERA) and Giants righty Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.76) are the scheduled starters in the season finale, which will determine whether Colorado wins the season series or if the clubs finish in a 5-5 tie.
As the Giants await the return of injured outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson has celebrated the birth of his son with an offensive explosion this week.
He had a home run, a double and a single in his first game back on Monday, then smacked a pinch-hit homer in Tuesday’s win.
Dickerson was back in the starting lineup Wednesday and responded with two doubles and a single, raising his season average to .307.
The second-year Giant has owned Gonzalez in their brief history, going 4-for-5 with two doubles.
Gonzalez has faced the Giants four times in his career, three times as a starter, amassing a 0-2 record with a 5.40 ERA.
Five different Giants drove in runs in Wednesday’s win, including Brandon Belt, whose RBI was the 500th of his career. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances with three hits and two walks as his average soared to .313.
“We’ve all heard hitting is contagious, and it really is,” he said after the game. “This really does remind me of back in the day when we were winning championships and it seemed like somebody new stepped up every single night. It looks like that’s happening right now, and we feel good about it.”
Gausman, a Colorado native, will be making his fourth career start against the Rockies. He has gone 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA in the first three head-to-heads.
One Rockies hitter who has gotten the better of Gausman over their careers is ex-Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar, who has gone 13-for-36 (.361).
An in-season acquisition by the Rockies last month, Pillar has made such a favorable impression, Colorado manager Bud Black noted earlier this week that he would love to have him back next year.
“There’s a steadiness to him that I’ve come to appreciate — he plays the right way,” Black said. “In a short period of time, our guys and I have come to respect the way he plays from the time he gets to the ballpark. He does it the right way. That’s professionalism for me.”
–Field Level Media