By Jon Weisman
In late July, we talked about how difficult the San Francisco Giants’ schedule would be from August 6-September 2, when they faced 26 consecutive games against winning teams. Aside from a four-game sweep of the Nationals, it didn’t go great.
- August 6-9: at Chicago (0-4)
- August 11-12: vs. Houston (1-1)
- August 13-16: vs. Washington (4-0)
- August 17-19: at St. Louis (1-2)
- August 20-23: at Pittsburgh (1-3)
- August 25-27: vs. Chicago (2-1)
- August 28-30: vs. St. Louis (1-2)
- August 31-September 2: at Los Angeles (0-3)
A three-game sweep of the Dodgers would made the defending World Series champion Giants triumphant — muddied but unbowed tug-o’-war survivors at the state fair. It would have meant a 13-13 run through the gauntlet, cutting the Dodgers’ National League West lead to 1/2 game.
Instead, San Francisco was dragged to a 10-16 crumble through the 26 games, sliding 6 1/2 games behind Los Angeles.
But today’s a new day, September practically a new month, and the Giants do have much easier possibilities for feats of strength in their remaining 29 games — 25 of which are against sub-.500 teams.
Let’s look at the final 32 days of the regular season. Of the Giants’ 29 remaining games, 18 are identical with those of the Dodgers:
- six games vs. Colorado (three at home)
- six games vs. Arizona (three at home)
- six games vs. San Diego (three at home)
Here’s where the differences are:
- Each team has three games on the road against an American League West team. San Francisco plays the 58-76 A’s, while Los Angeles plays the 67-66 Angels.
- Each team hosts three games against a National League Central team. San Francisco plays the 55-77 Reds, while Los Angeles plays the 79-52 Pirates.
- The Giants have a fourth road game at 54-78 Colorado, while the Dodgers have a fourth home game against 65-69 Arizona.
- The Dodgers have a fourth road game at 64-69 San Diego, while the Giants have an off day.
- The 69-64 Giants are home for four games against the 75-57 Dodgers (September 28-October 1).
Of those 11 different remaining games on the schedule, the Giants would appear to have an advantage in at least six of them, plus home-field advantage in the big four and an extra day of rest.
Winning eight consecutive games in which they’ve had a hit — the last five against playoff contenders — the Dodgers boosted their NL West lead from 1 1/2 games to 6 1/2 games. That advantage should be their shield, that assertion of strength their confidence, in taking on the challenging stretch run of the 2015 regular season.