Barring a disastrous collapse down the stretch, the San Francisco Giants might as well start printing their postseason tickets.
According to ESPN, the Giants currently have a 99.4 percent chance of making the postseason in 2012.
I like their chances.
So with their third trip to the postseason in the last decade all but etched in stone, what the Giants must now focus on is finding a way to maintain momentum heading into the postseason.
The Giants, of all the teams in MLB, should know this as well as anyone.
It was only two years ago in 2010 when they crept into the postseason by defeating the San Diego Padres on literally the last day of the regular season.
It was as if every game they played in September leading up to that point was a playoff game. The Giants embraced a must-win mentality for the last month of the season, and that mindset was translated into the playoffs where the Giants went 11-4 en route to their first World Series Championship since the team moved out west in 1958.
Carrying momentum into the postseason is critical for any team that hopes to win it all, but it's not some sort of entity that can be summoned with the wave of wand. It's not something that teams can plan on gathering towards the end of the season, either.
Essentially, winning the World Series in baseball calls for the perfect storm.
Teams, as well as players individually, get hot and cold throughout the regular season. The baseball season is like a roller coaster ride; it's full of ups and downs. So not only is it essential for players to remain healthy heading into the postseason, but they need to get hot at the right time as well.
That is exactly what happened for the Giants in 2010, as they were ascending at the most important time of the year.
The St. Louis Cardinals of 2011 are another perfect example of this theory. They went 18-8 during the final month of the season and had players like David Freese, Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols heat up at the perfect time.
This year, the Giants, who heading into the final 19 games of the regular season, are in a peculiar situation.
The good is that they are 15-7 during their last 22 games after their sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid August. Also, the Giants will only be playing teams in the NL West for the rest of the season, and they currently own a record of 32-21 against their divisional opponents.
However, this could be construed as a bad because they will be playing inferior opponents until the postseason starts. Once the Giants clinch a playoff berth, they could very easily take the foot off the pedal and begin to overlook these remaining games as they prepare for the postseason.
Yes, resting some of the key players like Buster Posey and Angel Pagan and giving the tired pitchers like Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner a few extra days off would be beneficial in the grand scheme of things.
However, it would be in the Giants' best interest to keep pushing and find a way to muster up some sort of momentum leading into the playoffs, and that can be accomplished by treating every game from here on out like it's Game 7 of the World Series.
There will be plenty of time to rest during the offseason.
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