D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
There were many more “when”s than “if”s from Brandon Belt, who summoned words that should resonate for any Giants fan.
“I think as we all know,” the Giants first baseman said after Wednesday’s win over the Mariners, “anything can happen when you get there.”
As play began Thursday, the Giants sat with a 59.2 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Fangraphs, and a 2 percent shot at winning the World Series. They’ll take those odds.
As they prepared to finish the “road” series with Seattle at Oracle Park on Thursday, they were tied with the Phillies (24-24) for the first of two wild cards, with the Cardinals (22-23) half a game back, the Brewers (1.5 back) looming and the Rockies (two back) hanging around with 10 more days of regular-season play.
Philadelphia has a tough season-ending schedule, with seven against good AL East clubs in Toronto and Tampa. St. Louis has a few doubleheaders still to play but only has games remaining against below-.500 teams in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Milwaukee. The Giants will be in the odd position of rooting for the Dodgers for the next four days, LA facing off against Colorado before the Rockies play the Giants then Diamondbacks.
Scoreboard-watching season is here. For the Giants, who don’t have an off-day remaining, they’ll finish up against the Mariners, play three in Oakland, then eight in San Francisco against those Rockies and the Padres.
“We control our own destiny as far as that goes, and we’ve done a really good job of stringing together a lot of wins,” Belt said of a club that has lost three of four but won 16 of its past 24. “We put ourselves in a good position to make the postseason. … Our main goal right now is just to keep winning ballgames, get into the postseason and take care of it when we get there.
“Now, I will say I think we have a really good team, and we have a really good shot to be a good matchup for these tough teams when we get into the playoffs.”
If the Giants enter with the second wild-card spot, a maximum of three games in Los Angeles likely would await. The Braves and Cubs are battling for the No. 2 NL seed at a time when the Giants’ rotation is rounding into form.
Drew Smyly was excellent Wednesday, Johnny Cueto is still Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman is expected to make a start this weekend, their top three in some order.
“The adrenaline has definitely picked up, I think everybody feels it,” said Smyly, who has struck out 16 in 7 2/3 innings off the IL. “We’re in the home stretch, and it’s just up to us. We’re in the driver’s seat, we just have to go out and win.”
Last weekend’s postponed game against San Diego will be made up Sept. 25 in an Oracle Park doubleheader that begins at 4:10. The first game will feature the Giants as the home team, the nightcap the Padres.
Reyes Moronta “looked good” in his first sim inning in Sacramento, Gabe Kapler said. He was up to 95 mph and “featured a pretty good slider.” Moronta is still an option for the stretch run, though the Giants did not have immediate plans on his next step.
Kapler called it “realistic” but not “the most likely scenario” that Austin Slater plays the outfield again this season.
Slater, who has a flexor strain in his elbow, has been limited to DH’ing, which he set to do Thursday.
“It looks like we’re going to attempt some catch play here in the next week, probably not in the next couple of days,” Kapler said. “We’ll see how that goes.”