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SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants
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find themselves weighing star catcher Buster Posey’s long-term health against their own short-term playoff fortunes as they prepare for Saturday’s afternoon clash with the Texas Rangers.Texas’ improbable 7-6 Cody Bellinger Jersey , 10-inning win in the series opener on Friday night, coupled with Milwaukee’s extra-inning victory over Pittsburgh, pushed the Brewers (72-58) nine games ahead of the Giants (63-67) in the battle for the second wild-card spot in the National League with just 32 games remaining.Making the Giants’ task all the more daunting is that they stand in just eighth place in the wild-card race, needing to pass six teams to earn one of the two spots.Article continues below ...San Francisco had hoped to make a run on a nine-game homestand that began Friday and featured six games against the Rangers and New York Mets.But the club left the ballpark a deflated bunch after second baseman Joe Panik’s two-out error in the ninth inning kept the Rangers alive, and Rougned Odor smacked Will Smith’s next pitch into the San Francisco Bay for a game-tying home run that forced extra innings.To add insult to injury, the Rangers wound up winning the game on a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk by Sam Dyson to Robinson Chirinos.Battling a painful right hip that will require surgery at some point, Posey caught the entire 10 innings and contributed a run, a hit and an RBI to the losing cause.His appearance was a bit of a surprise in that Giants general manager Brian Sabean had told the club’s flagship radio station, KNBR-680 in San Francisco, on Thursday that the hip surgery was “imminent” and that he was working with Posey and his representatives on scheduling it.Now that the Giants one game farther back in the wild-card chase and facing an afternoon affair after an extra-inning night game Chris Taylor Jersey , there’s a good chance Posey won’t be in the Giants’ starting lineup Saturday.Whether that’s to give the six-time All-Star a short break or perhaps because he’s left the team to start the clock on the recovery from the inevitable surgery remains to be seen.Sabean stated that the recovery period is expected to be about six months.If Posey doesn’t start Saturday, Nick Hundley will be behind the plate to catch left-hander Andrew Suarez (4-9, 4.68 ERA), who appears to have hit the proverbial “rookie wall.”Suarez has allowed three or more runs in six of his last seven starts, after not having done so in any of his previous six outings.The 25-year-old has never faced the Rangers.Texas is expected to counter with lefty Martin Perez (2-5, 6.93), who likewise has struggled of late, allowing 13 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings over his last two starts.Perez has faced the Giants just once in his career, and it was a doozy. He limited San Francisco to two hits and one run in 8 1/3 innings in a 2-1 home win when the interleague rivals last met in 2015.Also homering for the Rangers in the series opener was Joey Gallo, his 34th of the season. That’s more than twice as many as the Giants’ leader, Andrew McCutchen http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authent...ncy-jersey , who led off the first inning with a home run for the 10th time in his career to help San Francisco run off to a 6-0 lead. The homer was McCutchen’s 15th of the season. ATLANTA (AP) — Even with all their star power and deep pockets, all their booming hitters and ace pitchers, the Los Angeles Dodgers are approaching three decades since their last World Series championship.They’re making another run at that elusive title.Only this time, Manny Machado is along for the ride.The slugging shortstop hit a three-run homer that wrapped up a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday, sending Los Angeles to the NL Championship Series for the third year in a row and fourth time in six seasons.This is what the Dodgers had in mind when they acquired the free agent-to-be from the lowly Baltimore Orioles back in July.They’re hoping Machado is the one who turns Tinseltown into Titletown for the first time since 1988.“Can’t say enough about him,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “A player of his caliber, there are so many expectations put on him.”Machado had only three hits in a 3-1 division series victory over the Braves, but two of them were homers. He finished with six RBIs.“We prepared ourselves to get here,” Machado said. “We’re not going to stop till we get what we want.”Clearly, nothing less than a World Series title will do. While the Dodgers went through the customary celebration that follows any postseason victory — they doled out T-shirts and caps, posed for pictures in the middle of SunTrust Park http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authent...ing-jersey , then doused themselves with beer in the clubhouse — the focus turned quickly to the next round.The Dodgers will face the Brewers in the NLCS. Game 1 is Friday night in Milwaukee.“We all know that there’s a lot more work to be done,” Roberts said. “We have eight more wins to go.”Los Angeles spent much of the season locked in a tight race with division rivals Colorado and Arizona, and required a one-game playoff with the Rockies to clinch its sixth straight NL West title.“We took a hard path to get to this point, but I do think it made us stronger and kind of galvanized our team,” Roberts said.It certainly helps to have a player of Machado’s caliber bolstering an already potent lineup. The Dodgers hit a franchise-record 235 homers during the regular season, and added eight more in the NLDS.“They’re a very powerful team,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s what they’ve done all year is hit home runs. We’re not built like that yet.”Indeed, the Baby Braves were thoroughly overmatched in their first postseason appearance since 2013, hitting .154 overall and scoring just eight runs. Though the future looks bright for a team that pulled off a massive rebuilding job much quicker than expected, Atlanta was not quite ready to contend with a team of the Dodgers’ quality.Los Angeles had too much power, too much depth Yasmani Grandal Jersey , too much pitching.Not to mention too much Machado.“It was a great ride,” Snitker said. “We took a huge step forward this year. We had some very young players get a lot of great experience, both during the regular season and the postseason. And we have some really good players coming up. I really am excited about the future of the Atlanta Braves right now.”The Dodgers are locked firmly in the present.This is a franchise desperate to win one more game than it did a season ago, when the Houston Astros took Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium.That’s why they acquired Machado.“Coming over from Baltimore midway through the season — new ball club, new atmosphere, new teammates, new coaching staff, new front office, I mean, it’s always a bit of an adjustment,” he said. “But they’ve been nothing but amazing to us http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authent...son-jersey , to myself and my family. And coming here to a winning ballclub that’s been determined the whole way since last year to get into this situation and further, I’m just sitting here enjoying everything, enjoying the ride.”Machado wasn’t the only in-season acquisition to play a key role in the clinching victory over the Braves. David Freese, picked up from Pittsburgh just minutes before the trade deadline, came through with a pinch-hit, two-run single that put the Dodgers ahead to stay in the sixth.The MVP of St. Louis’ improbable victory in the 2011 World Series, Freese is eager to take part in another magical postseason run.“You never know what this game is going to give you, what opportunities arise for you,” Freese said. “You just gotta be ready.”
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