By Jon Weisman
In the words of “Evita,” “So what happens now?”
The flip side of the Dodgers’ 97-day climb from eight games out to first place in the National League West is their tenuous hold on the spot.
The Giants scored twice in the first inning of their game this afternoon against Pittsburgh and twice again in the third, putting them on track to pull back within a virtual tie with the Dodgers by the time Chase Utley steps up to bat for the first time tonight.
Update: Pittsburgh came back with six runs in the fifth inning and held on for a 6-5 victory, putting the Dodgers up by a game in the division heading into this evening.
If there’s an Olympic event that describes the remaining NL West pennant race, maybe it’s the 400-meter hurdles — two rivals running alongside each other, with their own individual roadblocks to surpass, but ultimately boiling down to a straight-up duel.
The morning of August 23, San Francisco and Los Angeles will each have 38 games remaining. Remarkably, nine of them — nearly 25 percent — will be against each other.
Six of those will be in Los Angeles, although the advantage for the first might be with the Giants, who will have an off day August 22 to make the short trip from the Bay Area, while the Dodgers can’t head home until after they finish a 9:35 a.m. PT game three time zones away in Cincinnati.
When you compare and contrast the remaining schedules for each team, you find the similarities are more pronounced than the differences …
- The NL West slates are nearly identical, with the biggest gap being the two extra games the Dodgers have against Arizona.
- Outside of the games against San Francisco, the Dodgers have only nine more games against winning teams.
- Los Angeles gets the NL-leading Cubs at home, while the Giants have to go to Wrigley Field — and play an extra game there.
- The Dodgers have a full-fledged East Coast trip remaining to play Miami and the Bronx (September 9-14), while San Francisco doesn’t go east of Chicago again this year, taking on the Mets and Cardinals at home.
- In fact, the Giants don’t go east of Colorado after September 4.
- The Giants play four more games against winning teams than the Dodgers, three of them on the road — namely, those three extra games in Los Angeles.