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San Francisco Giants' Magic Number to Win the NL West Is 43

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 17:   San Francisco Giants players high-five after beating the San Diego Padres 10-1 in a baseball game at Petco Park on August 17, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IAugust 18, 2012

There are two ways the Giants can face recent adversity. And if they stay focused, they can turn this season into a triumph.

The news of Melky Cabrera's suspension for PED use stunned the San Francisco Giants. According to The Sporting News, Giants GM Brian Sabean described it as "deflating." They lost the game to the Nationals the day the suspension was announced.

Then they had an off day. The off day could have been spent reading the volumes of columns about Cabrera, including Yahoo! Sports' Steve Henson's column bringing up the Giants' history of turning a blind eye to PED use.

Or they could have spent the off day focused on the game ahead.

They came back on Friday night and obliterated the Padres. Each run scored by the Giants seemed to scream "Melky who?" Each out recorded by Matt Cain reminded everyone this team is favored for the arms, not their bats.

The eight-run explosion in the third inning almost seemed cathartic. It was a baseball equivalent to a primal scream.

Around the time they were pounding San Diego, the Dodgers coughed up a late lead and would lose to Atlanta in extra innings.

So now with all of the hand-wringing and worrying and thousand yard stares from the Giants after Cabrera's suspension, they hold their destiny in their own hands.

The Giants' magic number is 43. Between now and the end of the season, any combination of wins and Dodgers losses equaling 43 would clinch the National League West for the Giants.

They have two more games against San Diego and then they go off to Los Angeles. Each win in Chavez Ravine cuts two off the magic number.

If the Giants used that off day to get mad and then take it out on the National League, then the Cabrera suspension could be a rallying point. It could be the moment the team came together and forced their way into October even without their All-Star outfielder.

The Giants have a chance to feast on some of the losing teams over the next few weeks. Besides the three games against the Dodgers and four against Atlanta this week, the Giants will have a steady diet of games against the Padres, Astros and Cubs through the beginning of September.

If the Diamondbacks, currently one game over .500, slip under the mark, then the Giants will play teams with losing records 30 of their last 43 games including the final 19 games of the year.

If the Giants stay focused and win the games they are supposed to win and don't feel sorry for themselves, they can turn the whole Cabrera fiasco into a mere footnote on the way to a division title rather than the moment that crashed the season.

43 is the number. Stay focused, Giants, on the number, not the suspension.

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