Last year, the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three years, and now finishing tied for third in the NL West will be an accomplishment.
Hunter Pence has his own achievement to be proud of.With an agreement reached on a long-term contract, Pence and the Giants attempt to conclude 2013 by finishing tied with the San Diego Padres on Sunday.San Francisco (75-86) is the first team to follow a World Series title with a losing season since St. Louis in 2007.The Giants, though, are finding some motivation as they try to catch the Padres (76-85) in the standings.They fell one game back of third-place San Diego with a 9-3 loss Saturday, but still own a 16-5 record in the past 21 meetings at home."It would be a big thing if we could win and finish tied for third," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We keep saying we want to win every game we play."Pence is doing his part, homering in each of the first two of this three-game series. His two-run shot Saturday came hours after he agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract.Pence has a career-high 27 homers with 96 RBIs."You can't help but love Hunter Pence and the way he plays the game," Bochy said. "It's all about making a commitment and getting back on track. You need great players."Despite Bochy's desire to finish in third, he's opted to end Matt Cain's season early, turning instead to Guillermo Moscoso (2-2, 4.21) for the finale.Moscoso's only start of the year came in a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Aug. 4, when he allowed three runs with four walks in 4 2/3 innings.The right-hander has made 10 relief appearances since, giving up seven runs with 11 walks in 18 1/3 innings. That includes two scoreless innings in a 4-1 loss at San Diego on Sept. 2.Moscoso has worked five shutout innings in four career games out of the bullpen against the Padres.San Diego is batting .313 with seven homers, 11 doubles and 27 runs during a 3-1 stretch, and Tyson Ross (3-8, 3.10) would surely appreciate some of that production continuing for his scheduled startHe's 0-3 with a 3.64 ERA in eight starts, receiving one run of support in each.Ross was impressive again in Tuesday's 2-1, 12-inning defeat to Arizona. The only run he allowed in a career high-tying eight innings came on a homer by Paul Goldschmidt.Ross has made a serious case to be a part of the Padres in 2014, compiling a 2.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, despite a 3-4 record in 12 starts since returning to the rotation."Since he was re-inserted into the rotation, he has really taken off; there's no doubt about it," manager Bud Black told the team's official website. "Tyson has pitched outstanding. The won-loss (record) really doesn't indicate it. ... If he continues to pitch like this moving into next year, a lot of good things are in store for him."Ross, though, is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four games -- two starts -- versus the Giants.