Thursday night went a lot better for the Giants than Thursday afternoon.
As devastating as their 11-inning matinee crusher was — Evan Longoria’s smashed hit finding Trevor Story’s glove, Austin Slater bouncing into a double play and spiking his helmet to end it — the Giants held onto the second wild-card spot because the Brewers were shut down by the Cardinals. San Francisco fans could take a night off from the Buster Posey-Yadier Molina rivalry and enjoy Molina’s two hits that brought him to 2,000 and helped the Cardinals maintain their loose grasp on the second spot in the Central.
They’re percentage points better than the Reds, who have one more win in one more game played than the Giants. Milwaukee dropped below Philadelphia, who is now the closest challenger to the Giants (28-28), one more loss in one more game played.
The Giants have repeatedly stated it’s as simple as: Win and they would be in. Four games against the Padres, two Friday, will determine their fate. They still have not announced the rotation, but Tyler Anderson will get one start. They are aligned to go with Johnny Cueto on Saturday and Drew Smyly on Sunday. The Padres, who cannot catch the Dodgers and are secure in their playoff seed, will throw Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet in the doubleheader.
There will be plenty of interest in St. Louis, where the Cardinals and Brewers have four more to play and also will battle in a Friday doubleheader. The Phillies end with three in Tampa against a Rays club that has clinched the AL East and is only playing to clinch the No. 1-overall seed, which may mean they won’t be going all-out.
The Reds have a tough draw, finishing with three in Minnesota against a team fighting to stave off the White Sox in the AL Central.
Fangraphs pegs the Giants’ playoff odds at less than a coinflip, 47.0 percent. On Wednesday, those odds were 66.3 percent. The Thursday loss was painful but not debilitating.