On your mark, get set, go.
With just over two weeks remaining before the 2021 MLB regular season comes to a close, the Giants begin an all-out sprint to the finish line with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
After losing back-to-back games against the San Diego Padres both Wednesday and Thursday, paired with one Dodger win followed by an off day for Los Angeles, the Giants lead in the NL West is down to one game.
With 15 games remaining for both the Giants and Dodgers, the NL West division crown is up for grabs.
Thursday's starter Kevin Gausman (5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks) was asked after the game if the long season is finally building up to a conclusion.
“Yeah, I feel like everybody on our team knew that the last two weeks of the season we’re going to be playing the Padres a bunch and some other good teams as well," Gausman told reporters. "I think early on in the season we all kinda knew that ‘hey, September is going to be a grind.’ “
The Giants play nine of their final 15 games at home, while the Dodgers play nine of their final 15 games on the road. Both teams, however, each have series against lowly teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Los Angeles faces off against three tough opponents in the Cincinnati Reds (3 games), San Diego Padres (3 games) and Milwaukee Brewers (3 games), while San Francisco faces off against the Padres (6 games) and Atlanta Braves (3 games). Both teams have nine games against playoff-caliber teams, which will make the fight for the NL West title much more difficult.
“It’s crazy how you play so many games throughout the year but it always seems to come down to the last couple of weeks when you’re kind of fatigued as a team mentally and physically," Kris Bryant said. "That’s when you need to be at your best, so we just gotta come out here ready to go. One game lead over a good Dodger team. The Padres obviously have some talented people over there. Not a terrible series, but not a great series.”
"The Padres are fighting to get in too, and we’re fighting to win a division, and they’re certainly not going to roll over and hand it to us."
Starting Friday, the Giants take on the NL East-leading Braves. Having lost two of three in Atlanta at the end of August, the Giants are looking to flip the script this time around.
“I just feel like they’re a pretty well-balanced team," Bryant said of Atlanta. "I feel like their infield, they have 30-homer potential everywhere. All those guys are having great years. They are who I thought they would be. They’re a good team and they’re going to give us a good series and hopefully, we can come out on top.”
“We have a good team coming into town," Gausman said. "I thought we played really well against them in Atlanta, and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
If the Giants are to reclaim the NL West title over the Dodgers for the first time since 2012, they'll need to beat up on the bad teams and hold their own against the good teams.
Let the fun begin ...