Schedule in Giants’ favor down stretch

Getty Images File PhotoDepth: The Giants expect to get some outfield reinforcement in Arizona

The Giants have three road games in Arizona, beginning tonight, before beginning a long swing at home, 10 games over 11 days in which they play the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and Diamondbacks.

Not a winning team in the bunch.

Meanwhile, the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers’ next three opponents have winning records: the St. Louis Cardinals in a series that kicked off Thursday, the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds.
The series against the Nationals and Reds are on the road.

So, yes, the Giants have the hammer down the stretch, and if that’s not enough, they play at Dodger Stadium the final three games of the season.

Will the race be decided by then? Seems so. Unless the Giants collapse and the Dodgers go on a run for the ages.

Nineteen games remain on the schedule, and the Giants’ seven-game lead appears too much to overcome.

“Knowing now what we’re striving for and what direction we’re going into,” Tim Lincecum said, “that motivation is a little bit deeper.”

Until further notice, they’ll play the Nationals or Reds in the first round of the playoffs.

Crawford holding his own: Shortstop Brandon Crawford entered the season as a no-hit, all-field shortstop, and he’s certainly a gem on defense. But offensively, he’s doing better than expected. It was speculated that he’d have a hard time hitting .200, but he’s at .246 and charging. “I’ve gotten more comfortable with it as the year has gone on,” he said.

Injury update: Outfielders Angel Pagan and Xavier Nady could be available when the Giants open their series today in Arizona. The hot-hitting Pagan was out of his Wednesday’s lineup with a callus on his left hand, which especially has bothered him swinging right-handed. Nady, called up from Triple-A Fresno on Sept. 1, has missed several days with a strained hamstring, and the Giants were targeting this weekend for his return.

Today’s matchup: Of the Giants’ final 19 games, six will come against the Arizona Diamondbacks, starting tonight. Matt Cain (13-5, 2.96 ERA) will take the hill looking to match his career high in victories with No. 14. The Diamondbacks will counter Cain with Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 4.43), who will be making his fifth big league start and first against the Giants.

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