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Most important game of the year. Most important series of the year. There isn't much more to it. If you aren't able to use this game as an excuse to paint an orange "SF" on your chest, put on an afro wig, and threaten prepubescent children in Padre hats, you'll never find a game to do so. After 130+ games, the fates have finally given us a game to freak out over. Three of them, in fact. All freaking out to this point has been exhibition freaking out. The regular freaking out season is here. Opposing home runs will lead to bottles being tossed across the room, Giants double plays will lead to operatic obscenities, and blown saves will lead to pet-sized holes in the drywall.

Ideal scenario: Giants sweep, which leads to some serious clubhouse meetings in San Diego. Players-only meetings, coaches-only meetings, player-coach meetings, manager-on-coach action...the works. The meetings are a rousing success, and the newfound camaraderie leads to a four-game sweep of the Dodgers. After the last game of the Dodgers series, Chris Young is caught in bed with Bruce Bochy's wife. The positive clubhouse spirit is destroyed, and the Padres lose every game for the rest of the season.

Likely scenario: Heck, I don't know. Either the Giants win some, don't win any, or win them all. Just thinking about the series gives me gas.

Worst-case scenario: The Giants are unofficially officially out of the playoffs if they get swept, miracles and math be damned. Losing two of three would be pretty devastating.

Matt Cain has a 2.71 ERA since the All-Star break, and has only allowed four earned runs in 20 innings against San Diego this season. Cain can also go through some Van Landinghamian control scuffles. I'm both eager and frightened to watch him pitch in the most important game of his career. Jake Peavy has allowed 13 earned runs in 26 innings against the Giants. That reads great, but it doesn't take into account that Peavy has only allowed 28 baserunners in those 26 innings. I'm hopeful the success from this season means something, but mostly confident that it doesn't. Gadzooks, this series has me nervous. Welcome back, actual emotion.

A sweep of the Padres would put the Giants just 1/2 game back from the wild-card, and could also put the Dodgers in striking distance. Optimism obviously doesn't work on this site. Every time I write about skipping through a meadow of baseball, daisies twixt my toes, the Giants lose by at least eight runs the following day. My choices are limited if I can't use forced optimism, but I do have one trick that hasn't been used yet:

I strongly recommend the Giants sweep this series.