Rockies host Giants in key NL West matchup

MLB

The San Francisco Giants visit Coors Field on Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-game series against the Colorado Rockies that could have huge playoff implications — given the way the expanded playoffs will be formatted this season.

The top two teams in each National League division will automatically advance to the playoffs. Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers have already sailed over the horizon in the National League West, and the San Diego Padres appear to have second clinched after taking three of four in Colorado.

So, six of the eight playoff berths go to the top teams in each division. The last two will go to the teams with the next best records.

As play starts Tuesday, Colorado is hanging in there for the last berth in the playoffs. The Giants are No. 9 for the field of eight. As things are shaking out, it looks like at least three National League West teams are headed for the playoffs.

So, the two games between the Rockies and Giants at Coors Field this week could be the first of two rounds in a head-to-head knockout series. The teams will play four more games at Oracle Park in San Francisco to start the final week of the season.

“Success and failure this season could come down to the results of one or two series,” Rockies manager Bud Black said earlier in the season. “Every game counts more than usual.”

Said Giants manager Gabe Kapler recently: “A good run can turn everything around.”

The Giants already visited Coors Field earlier this season, and it did not go well for San Francisco. Colorado won three of the four games, although the Rockies only had a 21-16 edge in runs.

The Rockies were off to a fast start back then. The Giants were not. Now the roles have reversed. The Giants are 7-3 over their last 10 games. As noted, the Rockies just lost three of four at home to the Padres.

The series starts Tuesday night with a pairing of right-handers — Jon Gray (2-3, 5.45 ERA) for the Rockies against Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.54 ERA) of the Giants. Coincidentally, each pitcher suffered a loss during the first series between the teams with very similar lines.

Gausman started for the Giants on Aug. 4 and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Gray started the next night and suffered the Rockies’ lone loss in the four games, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits and no walks with two strikeouts in six innings.

Gray will be making his eighth start of the season. He has a 1.294 WHIP. He has given up 24 runs (22 earned) on 36 hits and 11 walks with 21 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-4, 28-year-old Gray is 1-5 lifetime in 11 starts against the Giants with a 5.30, a 1.620 WHIP and a .296 opponents’ batting average.

Gausman, who is 29, has allowed 20 runs (18 earned) on 37 hits and eight walks against 48 strikeouts this season in 35 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-2 Gausman has a 1.262 WHIP. He has made two previous starts against the Rockies with an 0-1 record, a 6.97 ERA and a 1.258 WHIP.

–Field Level Media

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