Giants return home to face Rangers

SAN FRANCISCO — A team that’s returning home encounters a team that’s starting to feel right at home when the San Francisco Giants host the Texas Rangers in a three-game interleague series beginning Friday night.

The Giants got a chance to enjoy one of baseball’s longest flights — New York to San Francisco — after riding Madison Bumgarner’s gem to a 3-1 victory over the Mets in Thursday’s series finale.

The National League West’s fourth-place team (63-66) lost six of eight to cap a 10-game trip, but still believes there’s enough time to play catch-up in the crowded race for wild-card spots in the NL.

“I would like to squeak our way in there,” said Bumgarner, who will not pitch in the Texas series. “Obviously, that’s going to be tough for us. We gotta have a lot of things go our way and a lot of things not go their way. So I know the odds are slim.”

The Giants will get a head-to-head shot at most of the competition in the wild-card race in the final 33 games of the season. They’ll face the Arizona Diamondbacks (71-56), the current NL West leaders, on their current homestand, sandwiched between a total of six games against the Rangers and Mets.

“Anything can happen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy insisted. “You have to look at some clubs. They’ve fought their way back in it. One club, in particular, the (St. Louis) Cardinals, they got hot and look where they’re at (71-57). Anything can happen. We need to win games and get on a roll and get some confidence going.”

The Giants are expected to reinstate right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (6-1, 2.25) from the disabled list to open the homestand. The Arlington, Texas, native, son of former Rangers standout Ivan Rodriguez, has never faced Texas.

The 26-year-old has pitched brilliantly in interleague play, limiting the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros to a total of six hits and one run in 13 1/3 innings, striking out 12 while going 1-0.

The Rangers are scheduled to counter with right-hander Drew Hutchison (2-2, 5.71), who will be making his fourth start since signed by Texas earlier this month. He has never pitched against the Giants in his five-year, 96-game, 77-start career.

Like the Giants, the Rangers enter the series on a high, having held off the A’s 4-2 in the finale of a three-game series in Oakland on Wednesday.

As opposed to the Giants, they will be well rested, getting a rare opportunity to take a full day off on the road Thursday without changing hotels, having remained in the San Francisco Bay Area for both series.

The Rangers believe they’ve found a closer in right-hander Jose Leclerc, who got the better of nemesis Khris Davis in a game-saving situation in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s win.

“I thought it was a really nice confidence boost for him,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Leclerc, who struck out Davis as the potential tying run after the slugger had hit nine earlier homers against Texas this season. “Credit to Jose. One thing that I know: It will go a long ways moving forward with him.”