John Hefti, USA Today

Cardinals Loss Opens Door for Giants

The San Francisco Giants entered Monday with a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot.

With under a week to go in the regular season, it's officially do or die time for the boys in orange and black. While the half-game lead they entered Monday with was not a huge lead by any means, it was a lead. With the Reds 15-2 dismantling of the Cardinals on Monday night, that half-game grew to a full game with the Giants having the day off before starting their three game series with the Rockies on Tuesday at home. 

With a full game lead, all the Giants have to do from here on out is match the Cardinals win-for-win the rest of the way to secure a playoff spot. The reason that Monday's loss could end up being so big is that a win would have tied the two clubs for the second wild card, meaning the Giants would have had to match the Cards just to earn a tie. With the Reds and Cardinals set to play three more in St. Louis, it's hard to imagine that the Reds are able to pull off more than a series split, given their pitching ranking among one of the all-time worst and the Cardinals being the Cardinals. The Reds are now 7-8 against the Cards this season. They have Wainwright, Leake and Reyes lined up for the rest of the series.

This weekend St. Louis will be at home taking on the Pirates, whom they are just 7-9 against on the season. Giants fans can hope for a 3-3 week from the Cards the rest of the way, which should open the door plenty for San Francisco to claim one of the two wild card spots, but they'll have to take care of business against the Rockies (8-8 record this year) and Dodgers (8-8), and neither team is likely to take it easy on them, even though the Rox are relegated to playing spoiler at this point and Los Angeles has already wrapped up the NL West. 

Tuesday will be San Francisco's first look at German Marquez, who spent the majority of the season in Double-A compiling a 2.85 ERA over 135 2/3 innings. He made a brief stop in Triple-A as well, totaling 31 innings and accruing a 4.35 ERA. In his one major league start (he's made three relief appearances) he shut down the Cardinals over five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three. In all three stops he has outperformed his FIP by small margins. 

He is ranked as the team's number six prospect and came to the Rockies via Tampa Bay in the Corey Dickerson/Jake McGee trade last winter. According to MLB Pipeline, Marquez generally ranges from 93-96 with his fastball while touching 98 on occasion, has a curveball that could develop into a plus pitch, and his changeup keeps hitters honest. 

Wednesday's starter Tyler Chatwood has pitched his team to victory in two of his three starts against the Giants this season, allowing a total of eight runs (six earned, five in an April start) in 17 2/3 innings. In his most recent start against San Francisco on July 5, Chatwood went five innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits.

On Thursday the Giants will face-off with arguably the best starter on Colorado's staff, both now and in the future, in Jon Gray. In 16 career at-bats against Gray, the Giants as a team are batting just .063 (1-for-16) with their lone hit coming from Denard Span. On September 17 Gray struck out 16 in his start against the Padres--at Coors Field--the most strikeouts ever recorded by a single pitcher at Coors. He followed that up by striking out ten Dodgers in just four innings on Friday. 

In his one outing against the Giants this season (May 7) he went seven innings and gave up just one hit while walking two and striking out five. 

The Giants will have their work cut out for them to begin the week, but despite their best efforts to keep themselves out of the playoff picture, they're still very much alive with six left to play. 


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