Although it’s still July, this weekend’s series against the San Francisco Giants might have bigger implications down the stretch. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants will only play each other six more times and those games will take place in September, which raises the stakes this weekend in San Francisco.

Manager Don Mattingly had an eye on the series and was sure to align the starting rotation with his best pitchers for the three games. Zack Greinke starts Friday night and he’ll be followed by Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Andre Ethier gave his take on playing the Giants and Adrian Gonzalez essentially called the series a must-win, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

It’s not do-or-die, but it’s definitely one we want to win,” first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “Not, ‘We want to win,’ ” he added, clarifying. “I think we need to win.”

Should the Dodgers not clinch the NL West, they’d likely be in contention for the wild card via a one-game playoff, which Mattingly isn’t keen on:.

Everybody knows at this point you don’t really want to be a wild card,” Mattingly said. “If that’s what you have to do to get in you’ll take it, but it’s Russian roulette. Anything could happen in one game. You could have a game where everything just goes wrong, then your season’s over.”

As trade rumors continue to swirl, the Dodgers received a bit of a boost internally as Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig are both in Friday’s lineup. Should the Dodgers take two of the three games, they will remain in second place and trail the Giants by half a game. A sweep would give the Dodgers sole possession of first place and if they are swept, they would still remain in second but see their deficit grow to 4.5 games back.
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