(Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)
Two teams whose disappointing seasons potentially have put their managers' jobs at risk will go head-to-head one final time when the San Diego Padres and host San Francisco Giants conclude a three-game series Wednesday night.
The Padres (78-80) rebounded from a 2-1 setback in the series opener onMonday to record a 4-0 victory over the Giants (78-80) on Tuesday.
San Diego has won 10 of its last 12 games overall to remain on the edge of being eliminated from postseason contention.
San Francisco, in turn, was eliminated on Tuesday by virtue of losing every potential tiebreaker against the contending wild-card teams in the National League.
"The math has been what it's been. I think you turn your attention from watching the scoreboard to trying to win every moment, trying to win every game," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. "Obviously that method doesn't change. It probably never changes, no matter what. But coming to terms with the fact that we're not going to the postseason is pretty (expletive).
"Yeah, it's not a fun thing to be thinking about. It's disappointing. We expected to go to the postseason, and every step along the way we expected to go to the postseason, and that never changed. It's certainly frustrating."
The Padres, who reached the NL Championship Series last year, had higher expectations than the Giants this season.
Hoping their fast finish might carry over into a strong start next season, several Padres players have expressed their desire to see Bob Melvin return as their manager in 2024.
"It would be worse if we never found it," Xander Bogaerts said of the team's recent run of good fortune. "At least we figured out what was in there, and we're kind of showing it right now. This is what everyone expected."
Having celebrated his 27th birthday as well as a team win Tuesday, right-hander Matt Waldron (1-3, 4.58 ERA) is expected to get the ball for the visitors in the series finale. He threw five effective innings as a bulk-innings reliever in his team's 7-2 home loss to the Giants on Aug. 31, allowing just one run and three hits. It was his first career meeting against San Francisco.
Kapler announced after Tuesday's game that left-hander Sean Manaea (7-6, 4.51) will start on Wednesday. Kapler, however, left the door open for lefty Kyle Harrison, who had to be scratched from Tuesday's start because of an upper-respiratory illness.
"A half-hour before (Tuesday's) game," Kapler said, "I sat down with (Harrison) in the (manager's) office and said, 'Look, man, if you don't feel good, we're not going to send you out there.' He was absolutely down to pitch, but it wasn't the right time to be heroic. There's another chance for him to pitch this weekend. You never know, maybe even (Wednesday)."
Kapler then reiterated that Manaea remains the announced starter as he seeks to match last year's win total, when he made 28 starts and posted an 8-9 record for the Padres.
Manaea, 31, was the winning pitcher in a 7-2 victory at San Diego on Aug. 31, throwing 3 1/3 innings of one-run relief. He's 3-1 with a 4.08 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) against the Padres.
--Field Level Media