The 14 runs that the Giants have scored against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first two games of the series are more than they put up in their previous five games (11 runs total) against the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. With the win, the Giants remain a game above the New York Mets for the first wild card spot, and three up on the Cards. The win was also important for a potential tie breaker for who would have home field advantage in a wild card game if these two teams were to face off. The Giants lead the season series 3-2 with two games left. A win either today or tomorrow would lock up home field in this scenario.
The Dodgers also won last night, so San Francisco remains four back in the NL West. The Giants have won just three of 18 series in the second half, and a win tonight or tomorrow would give them just their second series win at home since the break. A win tonight would be the team's first three-game winning streak at home since they won four in a row from July 6-10.
Hunter Pence continued his hit streak last night, which now sits at ten games. He is batting .462 (18-for-39) over that stretch. Samardzija has pitched well over his last seven starts, holding a 2.95 ERA over 42 2/3 innings. He faced the Red Birds at Busch earlier this season and surrendered six runs in five innings, but June was also The Shark's worst month of the year.
The Giants have the same lineup as last night, save for Jeff Samardzija pitching, and batting in the nine hole.
And here is what the Cardinals lineup will look like tonight against Samardzija:
Moss, Adams and Molina have all had success against Samardzija in their careers, batting a combined .452 (19-for-42) when facing the righty. Of the starters in the Giants lineup, Nunez, Panik and Span have not recorded a hit against Leake, while the remaining five position players in the lineup are all at least career .300 hitters against the former Giant.
Even though the Giants have taken the first two games of the series, if the Cardinals take the next two, they will finish the weekend right back where they started: one game back of the Giants' playoff spot. With hard-throwing rookie Alex Reyes starting for St. Louis tomorrow night, taking tonight's game against a veteran that the club has had success against in the past could prove to be crucial in the long run, with the Cards finishing out their regular season schedule against the Rockies, Cubs (who have already clinched), Reds and Pirates while the Giants have six left with the Dodgers (home and home), four against the Padres in San Diego, and three against the Rockies.