Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweeping the Dodgers

If (when?) the Giants win the NL West at the end of this season, I will look back at the three game sweep of the Dodgers that took place Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week as the turning point of their season. The Giants just won what probably have been the most important games they've played this season up to this point. I say this for two reasons: 1) it happened against the Dodgers, which increased their lead to 2.5 games in the NL West, and 2) they did it after the suspension of star player Melky Cabrera, when many had written off the Giants for good.

The sweep couldn't have come at a better time. After losing their best player all season and reeling for a couple games afterwards, which cost them the division lead by 1/2 a game, the Giants beat up the Dodgers like a team with something to prove. Backed by three consecutive dominant outings, by Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Cain, and a stellar series by the top of the order (Pagan, Scutaro [who's been a terrific acquisition], and Sandoval [who's stepped in to replace Melky in the #3 spot]), the Giants came in to the Dodger's house and shut them down, allowing only 6 runs in total over the course of three games while scoring 14.

Many fans will remember when the Giants were humiliated a few weeks ago at AT&T by the Dodgers in a three game sweep. The Giants certainly gave the Dodgers a taste of their own medicine in this sweep. Now, the Giants need to take care of business the rest of the way, as opposed to playing catch up to LA.

Let's take a look at the Giants' schedule for the remainder of the season:

They have three non-divisional matchups against the Braves, Astros, and Cubs before the home stretch starts. The Dodgers have to face the Marlins, Cardinals, Nationals, and Reds as their non-divisional matchups. The Giants clearly have the edge in scheduling. If they take care of business in those three non-divisional series, the Giants should have a comfortable lead over LA, say 4 or 5 games. This gives them a cushion going in to the divisional opponents. The Giants have a chance to sweep teams like the Padres and Rockies, but the D-Backs are a team still in the hunt (although barely) and they may present a challenge. Some keys to the rest of the season will be the continued excellence of Buster Posey, the emergence of a hot hitter down the stretch, production from Pence and Scutaro, and a consistent pitching staff. If those four things happen, the Giants will be good to go for the playoffs.

All said and done, this division will likely be decided in the final 3 game series between the Giants and Dodgers. That will be fun. But the hope is that the Dodgers never even get that close.

Go Giants!!

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