Courtesy of Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group
SAN FRANCISCO — A National League Championship Series preview?
Maybe. Maybe it is a little premature to be thinking this in the beginning of June.
The two titans of the National League began a four-game series on Thursday night with the San Francisco Giants taking down the Chicago Cubs 7-2 at Oracle Park.
“Every time we go out to the field. It doesn’t matter what the color of the uniform we’re playing against, we want to win the game. There was some good intensity in the ballpark today. There was some from our players and from the fans,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler.
The Giants have the best record in the National League at 35-21, and the Cubs have the fourth-best record at 32-24.
Former Los Angles Dodger Joc Pederson absolutely crushed a home run deep into McCovey Cove for his second-career “Splash Hit” in the third inning that temporarily gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
However, the man of the match (to borrow a term from soccer) was Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. He went 2-3 with four RBIs, including a 3-1 bomb to right-center field (territory that only Barry Bonds used to hit 'em back in the day) to give the home team a 5-2 lead in the fifth inning.
“It was an off-the-charts game for Craw,” Kapler said.
A lead that held up thanks to six strong innings from Anthony DeSclafani, who also contributed at the plate with an RBI double. He looked shaky in the first inning, but settled down for one of his best starts of the season. The crescendo was him striking out the side in the 6th inning, mowing down the Cubs 1-2-3 hitters in Pederson, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez.
The Giants bullpen, which has been a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far this season, finished off the final three innings, led by Jarlin Garica and Zach Little, to give DeSclafani his fifth win of the season and the Giants their 35th win in their 55th game.
This might be far-fetched thinking, but when you consider the top three teams in the National League right now reside in the NL West, it might not be as inconceivable as you think. If the season ended today, the two Wild Cards would come out of the NL West and one of them would be gone after one game. That would leave the other team to face the Giants in the NLDS.
Whether it is the Dodgers or Padres, the Giants so far have been able to handle their own against both teams. And they will only have to face one, not both, in the postseason if they wind up winning the NL West and having the league’s best record.
The Cubs, if they were to hold on and win the NL Central, would face the NL East winner. I do not know if you have been following the MLB standings, but the NL East is similar to the NFC East of 2020, where nobody wanted to win that division. If the Mets win the NL East (as they currently lead their division at the moment), the Cubs could beat them in the division series with all their offensive talent.
This would be a rematch of the classic 1989 NLCS where the Giants won in fives games thanks to the clutch hitting of Will “The Thrill” Clark off Mitch Williams. Of course, most recently the Cubs got the better of the Giants in a postseason series back in 2016, winning their NLDS clash in four games.
I am not going to make a prediction or give you any odds of it happening. All I am saying is with three games left in this weekend series, we are in for some good baseball.
But do not worry, I am not the type of person to say, "I told you so," if it does happen.
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Reliever Dominic Leone after the Giants 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS on October 9, 2021.
Third Baseman Kris Bryant sat down with the media before Sunday's game to discuss what it feels like to be traded to San Francisco.
Manager Bruce Bochy after the Giants 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 29, 2019. This was his final game as Giants manager.