Mauricio Dubon has had an up-and-down rookie year, but there's been one constant. From FanFest to July's summer camp to the last couple of months, Dubon, who grew up rooting for the Giants in the Sacramento area, repeatedly has pointed out that nobody thought some Giants World Series teams of the past would be contenders, either.
The Giants were hanging their heads Saturday night after a 6-2 loss to the Padres, but they promised that wouldn't last long. Dubon, their energetic center fielder, shook off his own mistake and said the clubhouse would show up Sunday excited to try and clinch a spot.
"We're ready to go. We're ready to go," he said. "This is what we wanted. We wanted to play meaningful baseball. Going into tomorrow, a must-win game, you don't get that a lot. We're feeling really good about tomorrow. It's all-or-nothing. That's how we're looking at it."
That's truly what it is. If the Giants lose Sunday, their season will be over. Dubon will fly back to Miami, and the other 27 players will spread out across the country. If they win, they need some help. A loss by the Brewers would clinch a spot for the Giants. If both teams win, the Giants must wait until Monday, and then hope the Cardinals lose both ends of a doubleheader with the lowly Tigers.
It's not an ideal situation, but the Giants at least have some elements in their favor. The Padres are going with a bullpen game and are expected to pull their star position players early, as they did Saturday night. Gabe Kapler can try to get every platoon advantage, and he already is, with Darin Ruf starting against a lefty:
Kapler has Drew Smyly, one of his two best starters, on the mound. The other one, Kevin Gausman, will be available out of the bullpen, along with Logan Webb. If the Giants do get in,, they'll be scrambling to set up their rotation for a first-round series that starts Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, but that's a problem for a different day. Right now, it's just about finding a way into the dance.
"It will be all hands on deck," Kapler said.