(Photo credit: David Frerker-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants hope to keep their flickering postseason hopes alive but more realistically improve their chances of finishing in third place in the National League West when they open a three-game series in Northern California on Monday night.
By virtue of San Diego's ninth win in its last 10 games and San Francisco's eighth loss in its last 10, the Padres (77-79) and Giants (77-79) enter the final week of the regular season tied for third in the West.
Both teams are five games out of the final NL playoff spot, currently held by the Chicago Cubs, with just six games remaining.
The Giants will play the remainder of their regular-season games at home, with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming north for three games later in the week. The Padres will head to Chicago to face the White Sox three times after leaving San Francisco.
Each team will have its ace going in the series opener, with Padres left-hander Blake Snell (14-9, 2.33 ERA) opposing Giants righty Logan Webb (10-13, 3.35).
Snell has more at stake this week than just a longshot's bid for the playoffs. He has pitched himself into the thick of the NL Cy Young Award race by going unbeaten in his last five starts, running off four straight wins with a 0.56 ERA.
He hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two outings, shutting out the Dodgers on one hit over six innings, then throwing no-hit ball over seven innings against the Colorado Rockies last Tuesday.
The 30-year-old has dominated the Giants in two previous matchups this season, allowing no runs and a total of six hits over 12 innings in 10-0 and 6-1 wins. He struck out 19 in those games. He's 5-1 with a 1.83 ERA in eight career starts against the Giants.
Webb has yet to face the Padres this season, leaving his career mark against them at 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA in nine head-to-heads, including eight starts. The 26-year-old is coming off a 7-1 loss at Arizona last Wednesday in which he allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.
Clearly, the Padres enter the series with an edge in momentum, even if Sunday's regular-season home finale, a resounding 12-2 victory, ended with an apology to their home fans for a disappointing season.
"For sure, we definitely underperformed as a group," Manny Machado said. "We didn't play to our best abilities. As a group, we're better than that, and we know that."
Meanwhile, the Giants were 75-71 after their last home game, which they won 6-5 in walk-off fashion against the Cleveland Guardians on Sept. 13. The win had the club within arm's length of a wild-card spot. But three losses in four games in Colorado spiraled into a 2-8 trip that ended with a 3-2, walk-off loss to the Dodgers on Sunday night.
Like the Padres, the Giants will take the field Monday night pondering what might have been.
"I mean, we had it there," veteran Wilmer Flores said of a 5-1 homestand before the just-completed trip. "We had a chance this road trip to make something good happen. But we put ourselves in this situation.
"What, we've got a 1 percent chance now?"
--Field Level Media