For much of the season’s final week the Giants had control of their playoff chances. Now they don’t after losing two straight to the Padres.
If the Giants want to reach the tournament they need help on the final day Sunday, when all 15 games start just after noon PDT so none gains an advantage by knowing how teams in other time zones fared.
Two Sunday scenarios are simple to understand.
If the Giants beat the Padres and the Brewers lose in St. Louis, the Giants are in and will face the Dodgers in the best-of-three wild-card round starting Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
If the Giants lose to the Padres, they’re out. Period.
Here’s where people should stop reading if crazy scenarios generally make them seasick.
If the Giants and Brewers both win Sunday to finish 30-30, the 29-29 Cardinals will, in the words of Elmer Fudd, be vewy, vewy unhappy.
That would force the Cardinals to travel to Detroit for a scheduled makeup doubleheader Monday because the Giants would remain alive. Two Cardinals losses against the Tigers would leave them 29-31 and out of the playoffs while the .500 Giants and Brewers get in.
Since the Cardinals would have to win once to knock out the Giants and join the Brewers in the playoffs, they would not have to play the nightcap.
Again, the entire Cardinals-in-Detroit scenario applies only if the Giants and Brewers both win Sunday.
The Phillies are not dead yet either. If they beat the Rays on Sunday while the Giants and Brewers both lose, Gabe Kapler’s former team is in.
The Giants’ pitching firewall Sunday is left-hander Drew Smyly, who has been rock-solid in three games back from his sprained finger. In his return game he held the Padres to one run over four innings.
The Padres should be an interesting case Sunday in their final tuneup for the playoffs. They are locked into the fourth seed and have nothing to gain, so big hitters like Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., who were removed midway through Saturday’s game, might get one at-bat and leave if they play at all.
San Diego also will have a bullpen game, with the object of keeping arms sharp with two days off before Game 1. First up will be left-hander Adrian Morejon.
In St. Louis, the Giants’ fate will rest in the left arm of Austin Gomber, a second-year swingman who has made three starts for the Cardinals in September, totaling 11 2/3 innings, without allowing the Cubs, Tigers and Royals to score.
The Brewers will counter with two-time former Athletic Brett Anderson coming off two six-inning wins against the Brewers and Reds. He allowed three runs over the 12 innings.
The Cardinals have a strong motivation to win, and it’s not to help the Giants. They would clinch a playoff spot and not have to go to Detroit.