For everyone who isn’t a child of Will Clark or Jason Schmidt, watching the Giants hold off the Dodgers in the NL West has been something like watching one of those nature videos of a lion stalking a wounded antelope. It’s not a question of if or when. It’s going to happen.
At some point, the big bad killing machine designed to be the height of efficiency in hunting, which the Dodgers are, is going to maul the heroic yet doomed prey. The Giants have been a great story and a fun follow, but past Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford and the addition of Kris Bryant, they’re mostly guys.
San Fran is not supposed to be here, and even after almost a full five months in first place, it still feels like they’re tiptoeing around hoping to not set off the alarm. The Dodgers are inevitable. They have to be, right? That’s how they’re built. They just traded for an MVP candidate and a former multi-Cy Young winner on a whim, after all.
Yet, the alarm still hasn’t sounded, and the Giants are still here. And if you still believe in baseball magic — moments that are just omens of something unquantifiable that sometimes infects a team to heights greater than predicted — they may not be going anywhere.
On Saturday afternoon, the Giants trailed by a run in the top of the ninth. Which is not where you want to be against Oakland, possessors of one of the best bullpens in the American League. Then LaMonte Wade stepped up with a runner on first and took Lou Trivino deep into the Oakland afternoon, and the Giants had a memorable win. Wade is one of many Giants who have popped up out of nowhere, cranking 16 homers in spot duty this season. There was a time when Wade had been something of a prospect for the Twins, but after two pretty miserable attempts at the Majors in 2019 and 2020, he was picked up in February in a nothing trade. But like everything else the Giants have touched this year, he’s turned good.
They weren’t done. On Sunday, the Giants were down a run in the eighth with a runner on first, when Donovan Solano repeated Wade’s trick off A.J. Puk, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. And as the Dodgers lost for the first time in 10 days, San Fran’s lead in the West went back up to 2.5 games. Solano is yet another journeyman/role player, and when you’re getting pops like this from guys like this, maybe the pixie dust is layered on just a little thick.
It still feels like the Giants are trying to get the car across the line with some shoestring and duct tape. The rotation, which has been the strength of the team all year, is beat up, as Johnny Cueto and Anthony Desclafani are both on the IL, and Alex Wood is turning back into Alex Wood with a 5.40 ERA in August. Cueto could be out of gas as he’s only thrown 132.1 innings the three seasons prior combined, and is at 104 now. Desclafani has already thrown the second-most innings he ever has in a season. If it wasn’t for Kevin Gausman (12-5, 2.47 ERA) and Logan Webb (7-3, 2.84 ERA), the Dodgers might already be in first.
The Giants’ pen is still running strong, and the offense has been carried just enough by their stars to keep them from sinking. It feels like their season might hinge on their Labor Day weekend series with the Dodgers, though their playoff spot is assured as they have a 12-game cushion on a wild-card spot. Five weeks and 2.5 games on the Dodgers doesn’t sound like enough, but then 19 weeks in first place didn’t sound likely either.