Originally posted on SF Giants Nirvana  |  Last updated 9/7/12

Tonight, the Giants begin a three-game series against the Dodgers. San Francisco currently has a four and a half game lead in the NL West, so at worst, they’ll exit this series with a one and a half game lead. These next three games are obviously crucial: after this, the Giants’ only remaining series against the Dodgers is a three-game set in Los Angeles that will take place on the final three days of the regular season.

The goal, presumably, is that the Giants would enter that final series having already clinched the West — effectively rendering those games meaningless. In order to do that, the Giants would need a lead of at least three and a half games at that point (or rather, four, since the Giants and Dodgers will have played an equal number of games by the beginning of October). If the Giants can manage to win one — just one — of these next three home games against the Dodgers, then the Giants will exit this series with a three and a half game lead; and if they can keep Los Angeles at such a distance for the remainder of the year, they’ll clinch before that final series.

But the Giants have an opportunity to do so much more than that, and they should be focused on seizing that opportunity. Imagine, for a second, that the Giants sweep. It’s unlikely, even on their home turf, but let’s not forget that they did that the last time they played the Dodgers — and that was in Los Angeles, no less. If they do happen to sweep, playing really good baseball over the next three days and coming away with the win each time, then they’ll have brought their lead up to seven and a half games. Seven and a half games with 22 left on the schedule — or, in the Dodgers’ case, 21 games. Not too shabby. That would basically ensure that, barring an utter collapse, they run away with the division.

And take a look at the Dodgers’ schedule. While the Giants are bouncing around in their own division, facing the likes of Arizona, San Diego, and Colorado, the Dodgers have to play four at home against St. Louis, three on the road at Washington, and three on the road at Cincinnati.

The Giants need only keep the Dodgers at a comfortable distance, but they have a chance to push them away to “collapse’s length” over the course of these three games, and they should absolutely go for it. Why be content with one or two wins? It’s time to get greedy. This is the Giants’ chance to place a padlock on the division.

Here are the probable pitchers…

Friday: Josh Beckett v. Tim Lincecum
Saturday: Chris Capuano v. Matt Cain
Sunday: Clayton Kershaw v. Barry Zito

Okay, so the Giants might need some help winning that final game; let’s hope a little luck comes their way.

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