Giants-Cubs Series: A Must Win for the Giants
If the San Francisco Giants are going to have any hope at keeping themselves in the NL West Race in 2016, they need to take the remaining three games in their weekend series against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are guaranteed to be in the playoffs, and a virtual guarantee for the NLCS. However, if the Giants want to wait until the NLCS to face them, they need to win this series.
Tumble from the Top
The Giants’ fall from grace has been well documented. They’re now two games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead, and only lead the NL Wild Card race by 3.5 games. They’re 15-27 since the all star break, and they’re ERA has jumped from a 3.55 to 4.05. Opponents’ slugging percentage has also gone up to from 3.94 to 4.15. They watched their 6.5-game lead at the break slip all the way to two games. With the Dodgers now in the driver’s seat, a series like this one against the Cubs become even more crucial.
Keeping Up With The Competition
If the Giants were to come out of this series with the Cubs with a series win, you could officially count the “post all-star struggles” as a page turned in the season. But why is it so important that they pull it off? For one, the Dodgers play the lowly San Diego Padres this week, who as of now sit in last place in the NL West, 19 games back of the Dodgers. The Dodgers should be expected to pick up a minimum of two wins this series. With that the Giants need to keep pace. On top of that, beating the Cubs in this series should give the Giants loads of confidence going into the rest of the season, and potentially the postseason.
Keys To Winning The Series
If the Giants are going to win this series against the Cubs, they’ll need to do three things.
Score Early and Often. Getting ahead on the Cubs is a must. They’re offense at home is extremely difficult to keep off the scoreboard. The key to scoring more runs for the Giants will be getting productive outs. Too many times these last few months, the Giants get a lead-off double and then strand him at second. Too many times they come up with bases loaded and nobody out and fail to score, or only get one run.
Minimize Damage. The Cubs are a home-run hunting team. They live and breathe on extra base hits. Minimizing the amount of damage they can do with those extra-base hits will help keep the score within reach. That means: minimal walks, no mistakes on defense and keeping runners in check.
Shut Down Innings. A lot of times, what has gotten the Giants in trouble in the second half has been failing to get a shut down inning. They can go up three, and then give up a two-run homer. Keeping that mental advantage over your opponent is key. Keep the momentum in the dugout and get shutdown innings.