Rangers take air out of Giants’ postseason hopes
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants find themselves weighing star catcher Buster Posey’s long-term health against their own short-term playoff fortunes as they prepare for Saturday’s afternoon clash with the Texas Rangers.
Texas’ improbable 7-6, 10-inning win in the series opener on Friday night, coupled with Milwaukee’s extra-inning victory over Pittsburgh, pushed the Brewers (72-58) nine games ahead of the Giants (63-67) in the battle for the second wild-card spot in the National League with just 32 games remaining.
Making the Giants’ task all the more daunting is that they stand in just eighth place in the wild-card race, needing to pass six teams to earn one of the two spots.
San Francisco had hoped to make a run on a nine-game homestand that began Friday and featured six games against the Rangers and New York Mets.
But the club left the ballpark a deflated bunch after second baseman Joe Panik’s two-out error in the ninth inning kept the Rangers alive, and Rougned Odor smacked Will Smith’s next pitch into the San Francisco Bay for a game-tying home run that forced extra innings.
To add insult to injury, the Rangers wound up winning the game on a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk by Sam Dyson to Robinson Chirinos.
Battling a painful right hip that will require surgery at some point, Posey caught the entire 10 innings and contributed a run, a hit and an RBI to the losing cause.
His appearance was a bit of a surprise in that Giants general manager Brian Sabean had told the club’s flagship radio station, KNBR-680 in San Francisco, on Thursday that the hip surgery was “imminent” and that he was working with Posey and his representatives on scheduling it.
Now that the Giants one game farther back in the wild-card chase and facing an afternoon affair after an extra-inning night game, there’s a good chance Posey won’t be in the Giants’ starting lineup Saturday.
Whether that’s to give the six-time All-Star a short break or perhaps because he’s left the team to start the clock on the recovery from the inevitable surgery remains to be seen.
Sabean stated that the recovery period is expected to be about six months.
If Posey doesn’t start Saturday, Nick Hundley will be behind the plate to catch left-hander Andrew Suarez (4-9, 4.68 ERA), who appears to have hit the proverbial “rookie wall.”
Suarez has allowed three or more runs in six of his last seven starts, after not having done so in any of his previous six outings.
The 25-year-old has never faced the Rangers.
Texas is expected to counter with lefty Martin Perez (2-5, 6.93), who likewise has struggled of late, allowing 13 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings over his last two starts.
Perez has faced the Giants just once in his career, and it was a doozy. He limited San Francisco to two hits and one run in 8 1/3 innings in a 2-1 home win when the interleague rivals last met in 2015.
Also homering for the Rangers in the series opener was Joey Gallo, his 34th of the season. That’s more than twice as many as the Giants’ leader, Andrew McCutchen, who led off the first inning with a home run for the 10th time in his career to help San Francisco run off to a 6-0 lead. The homer was McCutchen’s 15th of the season.