Brandon Belt, center, celebrates with Joaquin Arias, left, and Hunter Pence after Belt hit the game winning hit in the tenth inning. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants swap places with Dodgers-still plenty of time

All stats are based on the standings at the end of play on Thursday, July 3rd.

Despite the collapse of the San Francisco Giants’ world as we know it over the past three weeks, the rest of the National League has unfathomably continued to function as though there is nothing wrong.

The Atlanta Braves get the nod as the highest-achieving club in the elder circuit, going 9-1 over its last ten games, taking eleven of fourteen overall, to climb back up to the identical record that the Giants have achieved by free-falling the opposite direction, 47-38.

In the National League East, the Washington Nationals have made it their business to maintain a two-team race, going 7-3 behind the Braves, thus losing their grip on first place but remaining just one-half game back of Atlanta at the start of play today.   

Slipping back this week, the Miami Marlins (4-6) now have two teams ahead of them to overtake if they are going to make a successful run at the title.  And both the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies went 3-7, as they rest comfortably at the bottom of the NL East, with identical 37-48 records.

Over in the National League Central, the Milwaukee Brewers are still calling the shots at 51-35, five games ahead of the closest of the trio of teams chasing them, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Though the Brew-Crew only went 5-5 over the past ten games, so did the Cards, fresh off of taking the series from the Giants.  

The team with the best record was the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-3 in their last ten, and now just one-and-a-half games back of the Cards.  The Pirates are still infused with the confidence of their successful playoff appearance last year and would like to see a repeat of their extended season.  

The Cincinnati Reds also feasted on the Giants this past week, completing the first-ever four-game sweep at AT&T Park, going 6-4 over their last ten and hovering just back of the Pirates, still intent on making a legitimate run at the division title.  And the Chicago Cubs, 37-46, were also 4-6, but the main reason they are in the news has more to do with their starting pitching ace Jeff Samardzija, and his availability, than it does with their potential playoff possibilities.

Jeff Samardzija

May 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) follows through on a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Over in the NL West, the race has settled into a two-horse show, between the North and the South of California, while the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks fight it out for third place.  Of the trio, San Diego, tonight’s venue for the Giants’ first stop on their road trip, fared best at 6-4 in their last ten, while the Snakes went 4-6 and the Rockies, currently playing the Dodgers, matched the Giants with their 2-8 woes.

Just for a second, I want to peer back at the last 25 games, to see how both the Dodgers and Giants have fared.  There are the same set of numbers involved, only in reverse.  The Giants are 8-17, while LA is 17-8.  Nine games difference in the win column and nine games difference in the loss column.  It didn’t take long.

However, with the return of Brandon Belt tonight in San Diego, reinforcements are on the way.  My point is that there is still plenty of time to correct the current downward slide before it becomes a debacle, as in not being able to make the playoffs.

On the other hand, if we do not have to tools to get the job done, I’d rather avoid the side-trip to the post-season, if only to get the boot. If we can’t win the Show, then I’d rather not go.  What do you think?

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