Giants welcome Rangers to open two-game series

MLB

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler emerged from taking two of three from the San Diego Padres over the weekend with a message for his players.

“Every game counts,” he mentioned after a win Saturday and repeated after a loss Sunday. “A win is a win. A win in May counts just as much as a win in September.”

Here’s the hook: Kapler watched National League West rivals San Diego and Los Angeles flounder on both sides of a seven-games showdown earlier this season. The Padres and Dodgers fought each other to a draw, but struggled against lesser opponents.

Did they look past teams before the showdown? Did they have a letdown coming out?

No one knows for sure. But Kapler wants to put the Padres behind him for now. And he doesn’t want his Giants looking forward to the seven games in nine days his club will play against the Dodgers later this month.

The Texas Rangers will be in San Francisco for two games starting Monday. After that, the Giants play the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds before facing the Dodgers. This is an excellent opportunity for the Giants to pad their 1 1/2-game lead in the National League West.

However, the Rangers are improving. They go to San Francisco on a two-game winning streak and are 7-2 over their past nine games. And they will have their “ace” going Monday night as right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.40 ERA) is matched against Giants left-hander Alex Wood (3-0, 1.96 ERA).

Texas is 5-2 in Gibson’s seven starts this year. The 6-foot-6, 33-year-old has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) on 30 hits and 13 walks with 35 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings.

“It’s clear why he is our No. 1,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said recently. “He’s pitched like an ace … he is an ace.”

And when you remove Gibson’s Opening Day start — when he gave up five runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning against Kansas City — he’s been an All-Star. Since Day One, Gibson has held opponents to seven runs (six earned) on 26 hits and 10 walks in 40 innings. That’s a 1.35 ERA.

The Giants will counter with the 30-year-old Wood. In 23 innings, he has given up five runs on 13 hits and five walks with 22 strikeouts in 23 innings.

OK, there is an asterisk. Wood’s four starts are divided evenly between games against the struggling Rockies and Marlins. This will be a stiffer test — although Wood does have a 1-0 record in two career starts against Texas, giving up one run on eight hits and four walks with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings for a 0.64 ERA.

Gibson has one previous career start against the Giants, giving up five runs on five hits and two walks in five innings.

–Field Level Media

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