LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have a 3½ game lead over the Giants in the National League West, and will be in first place after this three-game series is over no matter what happens, but you can't blame the Dodgers for having San Francisco at the front of their minds.
The Dodgers have lost nine of their 12 games against the Giants this season, though the two teams have split six games at Dodger Stadium.
"We haven't played well enough," manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday. "We haven't proven that we can beat them on a regular basis. But in the same breath those games are behind you and you're not going to get those back. Those don't even matter anymore."
That is true, and one might make an argument that the Giants' 9-3 mark against the Dodgers is the only thing keeping San Francisco's playoff hopes alive, at 12.1 percent Monday morning per FanGraphs and 17.5 percent per Baseball Prospectus.
Not bad for an odd year.
But forgive the Dodgers for not counting the Giants out unless those numbers venture into the negative, not just zero. The Giants are the cockroaches of baseball, unable to be killed even when given the slightest of chances of survival.
The Dodgers won the season series in 2014 against the Giants, 10-9, including winning seven of their last nine meetings when the Dodgers were able to throw Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu in eight of the nine games.
That resulted in the Dodgers winning the division by six games, but it didn't matter. The 88-win Giants were in the wild card game, and Madison Bumgarnered their way all the way to a third World Series win in five years.
The Dodgers are hitting .247/.314/.423 against the Giants this season, but have scored 39 runs in 12 games. With runners in scoring position against the Giants, the Dodgers are hitting .187/.308/.267, with a .203 batting average on balls in play.
The Giants are hitting .263/.330/.378 against the Dodgers this season, and have scored 47 runs. San Francisco is hitting .315/.383/.446 with runners in scoring position against the Dodgers, with a .382 BABIP.
"It always comes down to execution of pitches, coming up with a big at-bat and making plays. It really is that simple," Mattingly said. "I do think those games are important because they are head to head. We have a series here, then a series at their place, and we want to keep those guys as far back as possible."
Right now, the lead is 3½ games, and the Dodgers have their best three pitchers scheduled again just like they wanted. The chance is there to deliver a knockout blow. Will the Dodgers seize it?
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network