Weather playing a role in pennant races

The San Francisco Giants were ahead by six runs, and manager Bruce Bochy was still antsy.

That’s because a rainstorm was threatening to make that big lead moot.

”These are all important games,” Bochy said. ”A nice lead going into the fourth inning, that’s the last thing you want to see, is it called and have to play it again.”

The rain Friday night in Detroit eventually subsided, allowing the Giants to finish an 8-2 win over the Tigers, but the weather has played a major role in some key games lately. On Aug. 31 in Kansas City, the Royals trailed Cleveland 4-2 in the 10th inning when the game was suspended because of rain. It’ll be finished Sept. 22 when the teams play in Cleveland.

On Aug. 19, Bochy’s Giants were declared the losers of a game they trailed 2-0 in Chicago against the Cubs. It was called after 4 1/2 innings – and a rain delay of 4 1/2 hours – but San Francisco won a protest when MLB ruled that the tarp had not been properly put away after its previous use.

The game was ruled suspended, and the Giants lost anyway when it was resumed.

Bad weather late in the season can impact some of the year’s biggest games – and there’s not much time left for makeup dates. San Francisco got to keep its big lead against the Tigers – but only after the teams waited out a delay of 2 hours, 42 minutes. They were able to get the game in, much to Bochy’s relief.

The suspended game between the Royals and Indians means the AL Central standings are a bit deceiving. First-place Kansas City leads Detroit by two games and Cleveland by five – but the Indians need only three outs to finish a victory over the Royals, meaning things may be a bit tighter than they look.

Here are a few things to watch around the majors this week:

SHOWDOWN IN MOTOWN: Kansas City is 31-12 since July 22, and there wasn’t a thing the Tigers could do about it until now. Detroit hosts a three-game series against the Royals starting Monday. It’s the first time the teams have played each other since July 13.

Detroit is 9-4 against the Royals this season.

RIVALRY RENEWED: The Giants trail the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers by three games in the NL West, and San Francisco hosts a three-game series between the teams starting Friday night.

KERSHAW WATCH: Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will take the mound Tuesday night against San Diego with a 1.70 ERA. Over the last three decades, only Dwight Gooden (1.53 in 1985) and Greg Maddux (1.56 in 1994 and 1.63 in 1995) have finished the year lower than that.

Gooden and Maddux were unanimous winners of the Cy Young Award those years, although neither was named MVP.

FADING: On the morning of June 29, Milwaukee led the NL Central by 6 1/2 games. The Brewers are 23-37 since then and have fallen to third in the division. They start a four-game series at Miami on Monday night.

The Brewers have lost 11 of 12 – the second time this season they’ve gone through a stretch like that.

MAGIC NUMBER: Baltimore enters the week with its magic number down to 12 to eliminate the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East. The Orioles host a four-game set against the Yankees starting Friday.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The Royals took two of three from the Yankees in New York – and Kansas City did not score an earned run in either of its victories.