The next four days sees a series between the San Francisco Padres and San Diego Giants which could go a long way to deciding the fate of the National League West. The Padres come in with a two-game lead, having finally ended their ten-game losing streak with an emphatic sweep of the Dodgers. But the Giants have won three consecutive series, and are 7-3 over the past ten games.
If San Francisco can take the series in Petco, they will be tied with San Diego - and it will likely be pitching which decides whether they do. In those three sets, against the Rockies, Dodgers and D-backs, the Giants had a collective ERA of 2.13, and have struck out more than a batter per inning. In sweeping LA, San Diego conceded only three runs during the three contests, compared to an average of 5.5 per game during the losing streak.
Sunday's match-up stands out in particular, as it pits two-time reigning Cy Young champion, Tim Linceum against potential heir-apparent, Mat Latos. Lincecum struggled through August, enduring the worst month of his career, but it appears all he needed was to turn the page on the calendar. In two September starts, he is 2-0, with a 2.45 ERA, and twenty strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work, compared to only one walk.
Latos.misses being eligible for Rookie of the Year consideration this season by just two outs - otherwise, he'd probably be a lock. He has a 2.21 ERA, and that's after an April where he allowed 14 runs in just over 20 innings. He is riding a streak of 15 starts allowing two runs or less - the longest such run in over 65 years, since Al Benton matched it for the '45 Detroit Tigers.
As a neutral, I'm hoping the Giants take most of the earlier games, closing the gap and giving Sunday night's contest added importance. Should certainly be fun.