Giants see opportunity against Diamondbacks to close gap
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants get a crack at one of the three teams ahead of them in both the National League West and wild-card races when they host the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series beginning Monday night.
The Giants (65-67) responded to the loss of catcher Buster Posey to season-ending hip surgery with two straight wins over the Texas Rangers, keeping them within eight games of the Diamondbacks (72-58) in the West and eight behind the Milwaukee Brewers (73-59) for the second wild-card spot.
That’s a lot of ground to make up in 30 games, but the Giants do play 21 of their final 30 against playoff contenders, giving themselves a chance to determine their own fate to a certain degree.
That starts with Monday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks, when the Giants will go with right-hander Chris Stratton (8-7, 5.37 ERA) against Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin (10-4, 3.17).
The Giants are set up with their two top pitchers — Madison Bumgarner and Dereck Rodriguez — for the final two games of the series, which places added importance on getting off on the right foot in the opener with Stratton, who returned to the San Francisco rotation last Tuesday with a strong effort against the New York Mets.
The Giants lost that game 6-3, but Stratton had outpitched Steven Matz for six innings before allowing two runs in the seventh that tied the score 2-2.
The Mets added four in the eighth against the Giants’ bullpen to win the game.
Stratton has faced the Diamondbacks three times this season, with the results getting progressively worse.
He allowed one run in seven innings of a 4-3 win in April, three runs in four innings of a 5-4 win in June and six runs in three innings of a 6-3 loss earlier this month.
Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta bombed Stratton for home runs in the first two innings of the Aug. 3 meeting in Arizona, after which he was removed from the starting rotation for more than two weeks before resurfacing against the Mets last week.
He’s 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA in six career starts against the Diamondbacks.
With Posey out of the lineup, the Giants got production from a surprise source when outfielder Steven Duggar collected five hits in the three-game series against the Rangers, including a two-run, tiebreaking triple in Sunday’s 3-1 win.
Duggar went 0-for-2 with a strikeout when Corbin pitched the win over Stratton earlier this month. It was his fifth start against the Giants this season.
The 29-year-old threw a one-hit shutout against the Giants in April and limited them to one run on two other occasions this season. He has gone 3-0 in the five starts, improving his lifetime record against San Francisco to 8-7 with a 3.07 ERA in 24 games, including 22 starts.
Corbin can expect to see Hunter Pence in the Giants’ lineup tonight. The part-timer has hit four home runs with a .366 batting average in 45 career plate appearances against the left-hander.
Coming off two losses in three games at home to the Seattle Mariners, the Diamondbacks find themselves one game up in the West on Colorado (71-59) and 2 1/2 ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers (70-61) as they begin a seven-game trip.
The Diamondbacks go head-to-head with the Dodgers for four games in LA later this week.