SAN FRANCISCO >> Giants versus Dodgers.
First place versus second.
The weekend series doesn’t need any subplots — it can sell itself — but here’s a subplot anyway.
The Dodgers find themselves in the rare position of being at relatively full strength. Only utility player Chone Figgins is on the disabled list, though that could change if Hanley Ramirez can’t grip a bat soon.
The Giants only wish they were that healthy.
Veteran pitcher Matt Cain went on the 15-day disabled list Monday with elbow soreness. Cain was 2-7 with a 4.18 earned-run average this season. He’d faced the Dodgers twice, with mixed results. He gave up five runs in a 6-2 loss on April 6 and took a no-decision May 10, another 6-2 Dodgers win. Cain is 5-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 career starts against the Dodgers.
Center fielder Angel Pagan hasn’t played since June 14 because of a bulging disk in his lower back. First baseman Brandon Belt is out for the weekend because of a concussion. Both Pagan (.297/.409/.378) and Belt (.333/.394/.467) had been Dodger killers this season. These two injuries have left some wondering whether the Giants’ bench is the weakest in baseball.
And yet, San Francisco has won five of six coming out of the All-Star break to leapfrog the Dodgers into first place. Playing the Marlins and Phillies isn’t as tough as the Cardinals and Pirates, but it’s clear the Giants won’t use their injuries as an excuse for poor play.
The Dodgers, who have lost four of six out of the break, can’t.