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San Francisco Giants: Leading MLB’s Tightest Division Race

May 6, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy (5) runs to third base after hitting a triple against the Colorado Rockies during the fifth inning at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy (5) runs to third base after hitting a triple against the Colorado Rockies during the fifth inning at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Francisco Giants must be anticipating next week’s Friday the 13th. Two days after giving up 13 innings in one inning to the Colorado Rockies, the Giants went 13 innings against their black-and-purple rivals.

But in great contrast to Thursday’s scoring barrage, the first runs didn’t even cross the plate Saturday until extra innings, when each team picked up a run in the 10th. Then three innings later, Giants third baseman and No. 3 hitter Matt Duffy drove in Conor Gillaspie for the game’s third and final run. All of which went down in the series’ third game.

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In other “3” news, Brandon Belt ripped his third triple of the season in Saturday’s game.

But the most important numerical value of the day was the one win the Giants earned, allowing them to maintain their one-game divisional lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat Toronto in an inter-league matchup.

After trailing the Dodgers by 3½ games just a couple weeks ago, the Giants have been on a nice roll. They’ve won eight of their last 12 games, while the only other National League West team to not have a losing record in that time is San Diego.

That said, the Giants don’t exactly have much breathing room. The division’s five teams are all within 3½ games of each other in the standings, making the NL West the tightest division in Major League Baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers, for instance, trail the Chicago Cubs by 12 games in the NL Central, while the Atlanta Braves sit 11 games behind the Washington Nationals in NL East. The second tightest division standings is in the American League East, where the last-place New York Yankees are five games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

All this is to say that at the moment the NL West does not have an obvious favorite or any obvious playoff contenders, or really any obvious trade-deadline sellers.

In all likelihood, San Diego’s 13-17 record (.433 winning percentage) is representative of how their season will go, but considering that San Francisco’s 17-15 record is the weakest of the Majors’ six division leaders, the Padres have reason for optimism (at the moment).

While the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks are slumping, neither should be doubting their playoff aspirations. And the Rockies are right there in the mix, too, appearing to be every bit as competitive as their division foes.

So, the Giants should be pleased with their first-place status and their winning ways of the past couple weeks. But they also should be (and most certainly are) aware that their lead is as tenuous as the division is winnable.

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