Sunday Showdown: Padres and Giants collide for NL West title
The San Diego Padres celebrate their 4-2 defeat of the San Francisco Giants at the end of a baseball game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, left, argues with home plate umpire Mike Everitt, right, after the Giants' Buster Posey was called out on strikes during the sixth inning of their baseball game against the San Diego Padres. (AP)
San Francisco Giants' Mike Fontenot, is forced out at second base as San Diego Padres shortstop Miguel Tejada, right, turns a double play during the first inning of their baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
San Diego Padres' Tim Stauffer works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Diego Padres' David Eckstein is greeted near the dugout after scoring the Padres' second run in the first inning of their baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
By Darren Feeney / KFMB Interactive
The pendulum of momentum has swung in the National League West.
San Francisco squandered their second chance in a row to close the division's door Saturday. The Padres have a chance to break that door down Sunday in the regular-season finale.
The Padres left San Diego en route to AT&T Park with one mission and one mindset after dropping three of four to the Chicago Cubs: sweep the series in San Francisco.
Sweeping the series was the Padres only chance at making the postseason.
With three games to play, the Padres were three games behind the Giants (91-70) in the NL West and two games back of Atlanta in the Wild Card race.
To say things have played out optimally over the last 48 hours would be an understatement.
On the brink of sweeping the Giants and with Atlanta (90-71) on the brink of being swept by Philadelphia, San Diego's 4-2 win Saturday shaved the Giants' lead to one game and also puts San Diego (90-71) in a tie with Atlanta for the NL Wild Card.
The 162-game haul has come down to its final game.
Ace Mat Latos (14-9) will take the mound Sunday for San Diego against Jonathan Sanchez (12-9), who is 2-5 lifetime versus the Padres but also threw a no-hitter against them last year.
In August, Sanchez guaranteed a three-game sweep of the Padres but San Francisco dropped two of three.
"We're going to play San Diego, and we're going to beat them three times," Sanchez told The San Francisco Chronicle. "If we get to first place, we're not going to look back."
Last week it was Mat Latos' comments that made headlines and provided bulletin board material, when he criticized the rival Giants for their in-season offensive overhaul, accomplished largely by picking up second-hand goods from non-contending teams.
"Baseball works in funny ways," Latos told CBSSports.com. "The only way I could honestly put it is, we could be like the Giants and go and change our whole lineup, put guys with 'San Francisco Giants' across their jerseys. We didn't."
"We added two guys (Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick). We've been the same team all year. We haven't just gone and grabbed guys from other teams."
The Padres have won 7 of 8 in San Francisco this year and 13 of 18 against the Giants overall.
With a win Sunday, the Padres will be playing beyond the end of the regular season.
Possible Playoff Scenarios:
--If the Giants win, they take the NL West crown.
--If the Padres win and the Braves lose, the Padres and Giants would tie for the NL West title, but the Padres would get the NL West's top seed in the playoffs (13-5 head-to-head record vs. SF), and the Giants would be the wild card. The Padres would also have the home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Cinicinnati Reds because the Padres won the season series 4-2.
--If the Giants win and the Braves win, Atlanta would take the wild card and San Diego's season would be over.
--If the Padres and the Braves both lose, San Diego would travel to Atlanta for a one-game playoff Monday to determine the NL wild-card winner.
--And the most complicated scenario of all: If the Padres and Braves both win, meaning all three teams end the season with the same record, the Padres and Giants would battle it out in San Diego on Monday for the NL West title. The loser would then travel to Atlanta for a game Tuesday to determine the wild-card winner.