By Jon Weisman
San Francisco’s Giants could finish their 2015 season on a 22-game winning streak, and the Dodgers would still win the National League West by playing .650 ball over the final three weeks.
That’s what it means for the Dodgers to have a magic number of 13 to clinch the division on September 13, after Zack Greinke pitched eight shutout innings in today’s 4-3 victory over the Diamondbacks.
San Francisco swept the Padres over three games this weekend to move from 8 1/2 back of Los Angeles to 7 1/2, with 19 games remaining on the Giant schedule. But the Giants still face some appropriately giant odds.
Among other things, in addition to being the magic number, 13 is also the number of games the Dodgers have remaining against sub-.500 teams: six against Colorado, four against Arizona and three vs. San Diego.
The Dodgers can’t coast to the finish. However, if the Dodgers play .500 ball down the stretch (10-10), San Francisco has to go 17-2 to catch Los Angeles and force a one-game playoff.
There’s even a decent chance the NL West race will be over before September 28, rendering the feared four-game Dodger-Giants series in San Francisco meaningless. Over the next two weeks, the Dodgers play 10 games against sub-.500 teams. Win seven of those 10, throw in one measly victory over the Pirates next weekend (with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw potentially pitching), and the Giants would have to go 8-4 just to be alive when the Dodgers land in San Francisco.