Sitting 5 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs in the National League West and now 4 1/2 games back of the Wild Card-leading Braves, the Giants can barely afford to start a losing streak of any length Wednesday night in Dodger Stadium. Arizona's magic number to clinch the NL West is now three, and the Giants' Wild Card elimination number is down to four.
That's why the Giants have practically no margin for error as they send Ryan Vogelsong to the mound to face Dodgers lefty Dana Eveland.
Eveland wasn't overpowering by any means when he faced Vogelsong and the Giants on Sept. 10, but he completely dominated them over seven shutout innings, giving up just two walks and three hits. Pablo Sandoval was responsible for one of each, and it seems unlikely the switch-hitting third baseman will be in Wednesday's starting lineup.
Sandoval could only pinch-hit Tuesday against right-hander Kenley Jansen due to a strained left shoulder that makes it painful to swing right-handed and might require offseason surgery.
"It's tough," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said."I talked with Pablo to see if there was any chance [of playing]. But he just can't swing right-handed. ... He really hasn't had a break to let this thing calm down."
Even though the Dodgers are out of contention, they still have plenty to play for. Even if manager Don Mattingly wouldn't come out and say it was exciting to derail the Giants' playoff chances, he admitted there was some level of excitement around the final Giants-Dodgers series of the year.
"These are fun games for us," he said, noting that finishing above .500 is a more important goal for his club. "This series ought to be fun. Playing with these guys, we know we're going to get a club that needs to win and is playing desperate. They're going to give everything."
The Giants can certainly count on Vogelsong giving them everything he has, as he has done just that throughout his impressive comeback season. Vogelsong pitched 5 1/3 innings amid a rare Giants blowout Thursday, picking up his 11th win and ending a frustrating five-game personal losing streak -- all of which were quality starts.
Giants: Ross feeling better, would be limited in return
Outfielder Cody Ross, whose right-handed bat would have been of some use against Kershaw and Eveland, said his strained right hamstring is feeling better. If Ross does return anytime soon, however, it would be in a limited role -- likely just pinch-hitting. Bochy said Ross would be out about a week after the injury occurred Friday, and Ross received a cortisone shot Sunday to accelerate the healing process.
"It's a matter of trying to get back to where I can function," said Ross, who jokingly added, "I'd say that they're not going to use me as a pinch-runner."
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz, rehabbing a fractured right foot in Arizona, could be ready to rejoin the active roster this weekend. Bochy said Schierholtz, enjoying a career year and playing outstanding corner-outfield defense before the injury, has been "doing a lot better" lately.
"It'd be nice to have him available," Bochy said.
Dodgers: Kemp wins Campanella Award
Center fielder Matt Kemp won the Dodgers' sixth annual Roy Campanella Award on Tuesday and will receive the award in a pregame ceremony Wednesday, taking home the honor awarded to the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of Campanella, the late Hall of Fame catcher.
Kemp has put together MVP-caliber numbers this season and has done "everything that you could ask," Mattingly said. And he has done so on an everyday basis, practically laughing off the notion of taking a day off.
"Well, Matt's probably going to get a lot of awards over the course of this year," Mattingly said.
Rookie outfielder Jerry Sands stretched his hitting streak to eight games Tuesday with a solo home run off Tim Lincecum and is batting .533 (16-for-30) with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs during that stretch.
The Giants are 40-24 against NL West opponents this season, going 21-12 at home and 19-12 on the road.
The Dodgers have posted a 13-4 record over their last 17 home games and are 40-25 overall since July 7.