San Francisco Giants: July Is the Month To Catch the Dodgers

Andy BenschSenior Writer IJuly 2, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants at bat during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After a dropped foul ball and a questionable non-strike call helped the Cardinals snap San Francisco's three-game winning streak, the month of July didn't start off the way the men in orange and black would have preferred.

However, the 2009 Giants still lead the Wild Card race coming into the second of July. Currently, San Francisco is still 1.5 games ahead of both the Cardinals and those pesky Colorado Rockies who have seemingly risen from the dead.

But one of the main reasons the Giants find themselves leading the Wild Card race is because winning the Wild Card is the furthest thing from their minds.

All year the Giants have kept their eyes on the real prizecatching the hated Los Angeles Dodgers and winning the division.

Unfortunately for the Gigantes, their rivals are not only the best team in the NL West but, thanks to a white hot start through April and May, also the best team in baseball.

But there is hope that the Giants can make a run at the division, and that hope comes from the month of July.

Taking away the first two games of this month against the Cardinals and the last two games against the defending World Series champions, the main portion of the July schedule is set up for the Giants to make their run.

From July 3 to July 29, the combined record of the teams the Giants will be facing is 226-240, good enough for just a .489 winning percentage.

As of now, the Giants have a .545 winning percentage, and if San Francisco wants to drop the "pretender" label for good, then they have to beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

During this 23-game portion of the season, the Orange and Black will face the NL Central bottom-feeding Houston Astros for three games and the Pittsburgh Pirates for six games.

However, it doesn't stop there. The Giants will play four games in Atlanta against a struggling Braves team that San Francisco swept at home earlier this season.

Not only that, but the Giants get three games against the lowly San Diego Padres. This series may just end up being the most pivotal series of the month, as San Francisco has gone just 2-6 against San Diego this season.

Thirteen of the 23 games during this stretch will come at AT&T Park, where the Giants have played tremendous baseball this season. They have regained their home field advantage of years past with a 24-12 record so far this season.

The 10 road games during this portion of the schedule come in Atlanta, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. These parks are not extremely difficult for opposing teams to play in, and the Giants' starting rotation is better than each of these three clubs.

The month of July is set up for the Giants to make a run, and anything less than a 15-8 mark in those 23 games would be a disappointment.

Currently, the Giants are thought of around the league as "pretenders," but if they want to be thought of as "contenders," then they have to beat the teams they are "supposed" to beat.

Well, this month the Giants face a whole heap of teams who are below them in the standings.

And therefore, those are teams that they are supposed to beat.

If the Giants can play up to their capabilities and beat these teams they are "supposed" to beat, then they might just find themselves neck-and-neck with the Dodgers come the end of July.