(Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Francisco Giants' pursuit of a National League wild-card berth has been derailed by a disastrous September road stretch.
Fresh off ending a nine-game road losing streak, San Francisco remains away from home on Tuesday when it opens a two-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
The Giants (76-74) entered Monday two games behind the third wild-card spot in a closely bunched field. Arizona (79-72) began Monday in possession of the second spot after a three-game weekend sweep of the visiting Chicago Cubs.
San Francisco needs to look only at its recent road woes to see why it is on the outside of a playoff spot with just 12 games remaining.
The Giants were outscored 58-23 in their nine straight road losses before salvaging the finale of a four-game series against the lowly Colorado Rockies on Sunday. And in that contest, San Francisco had a nine-run lead after 5 1/2 innings before escaping Denver with an 11-10 victory.
"Unfortunately, losing three of four here is not ideal, and we had some tough ones," Giants outfielder Mitch Haniger said after Sunday's triumph. "But to leave here with a win was really important."
San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said he's hoping the momentum carries into the set with the Diamondbacks. The Giants have a 6-5 season series lead so the tiebreaker edge is also at stake.
San Francisco finishes its 10-game road trip with four against the Los Angeles Dodgers, beginning Thursday.
Arizona is thriving with eight wins in 12 games. A key element was taking six of seven from the Cubs, another wild-card contender.
The Diamondbacks won Sunday's series finale 6-2. Ketel Marte hit a two-run homer as Arizona finished the sweep.
"You're always curious about how your team is going to respond," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said afterward. "Our guys were ready and I couldn't be more proud of the statement they made."
Arizona first baseman Christian Walker said this is not a time for his club to feel comfortable.
"It's part of being a professional, knowing your situation and what you need to do to get in," Walker said of the postseason situation. "But also understanding how quick things can change with these series coming up.
"Even these next two games against the Giants, we're still out for blood. It's not about doing enough -- we're trying to win out. We want to give ourselves a no-doubt chance."
NL Cy Young Award contender Zac Gallen (15-8, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday for Arizona.
Gallen has struggled of late, going 1-3 with a 6.20 ERA over his last four starts. The victory was a three-hit shutout of the Cubs on Sept. 8.
Five days later, the 28-year-old All-Star was torched for seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in five-plus innings while losing to the New York Mets.
Gallen is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in two 2023 starts against the Giants. He is 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 12 career starts against San Francisco.
Michael Conforto (5-for-13) and Brandon Crawford (4-for-22) have homered off Gallen. Joc Pederson is just 2-for-21.
Right-hander Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.62) is expected to start for San Francisco after having his last turn skipped due to a hip injury. Cobb has been dealing with the ailment since June.
Cobb labored through five innings of a no-decision against the Cleveland Guardians on Sept. 11. He gave up two unearned runs and three hits.
Cobb, 35, is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two starts against Arizona this season. He is 3-2 with a 4.87 ERA in eight career outings against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona All-Star Corbin Carroll is hitless in eight at-bats against Cobb. Walker is 8-for-19 with a homer.
--Field Level Media