They don't look like a playoff team, they sure don't hit like a playoff team, and the standings say that the Giants are ...

Wait for it ...

Tied for the first N.L. wild-card spot with Atlanta.

Oh, and this, too: The Giants trail the N.L. West-leading Dodgers by only one game.

Which is a roundabout way of emphasizing that the Giants are still very much in this pennant race and have to approach every upcoming decision with that in mind.

There are disturbing signs about this team, no doubt; the Giants' 10-22 record since June 8 is a big indicator of a lot of shaky things.

But the Giants are still so close to another postseason run and their roster core is so fixed in place that there just isn't much to gain from giving up, selling off and going meekly into the offseason.

The Giants are probably in this race for the duration, and here are my five main reasons for this:

1. The Dodgers are beatable until proven otherwise (and even if they do more mega-spending soon).

Yep, I know the Dodgers ate up the Giants' early 91/2-game lead this year in a few weeks.

But since June 30, the Giants have gone 6-7. While the Dodgers have gone an awe-inspiring 6-6.

Though many have pointed out that the Dodgers won the division going away last season, I'll note that they did it by winning 92 games, fewest among the six division winners.

This year, the Dodgers are on pace to win 90 games. The Giants need to go 38-29 to finish with 90 victories.

I'd say that's a realistic Giants' target, right there.


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Side note: The Dodgers definitely see this threat, because they're carefully adjusting their rotation for the upcoming series against the Giants.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is holding his top guns out this weekend to make sure they're lined up for the Giants series next weekend; Giants manager Bruce Bochy isn't doing that with his aces.

So the July 25-27 series at AT&T Park now sets up as: Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Vogelsong vs. Zack Greinke and Matt Cain vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodgers have the theoretical advantage in those matchups, but Bochy will fire out of the break with Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson pitching right away -- Friday and Saturday in Miami.

2. The Giants' pitching has been strong, as always, which is mandatory when you're going up against the Dodgers over a full season.

Overall, the Dodgers have a 3.29 team ERA, fifth-best in the majors. The Giants are only slightly behind that with a 3.40 team ERA, seventh-best.

There are some questions about Cain -- for instance, why did Bochy push him all the way back to the fifth slot in the post-break rotation?

But Lincecum's recent hot run can pick up a lot of slack across the board if he maintains it.

And it looks as if Bochy is wisely looking to maximize Lincecum's home starts -- by slotting him for the third game after the break, Lincecum is now set up to pitch twice on the following homestand.

Lincecum's home ERA: 2.54. His road ERA: 5.82.

3. The Giants have a rough remaining schedule -- 12 of their final 21 series are on the road -- but the Giants seem to rise or fall regardless of their schedule.

If they play well, they can survive whatever they have and wherever they play.

If they stink, they can stink it up against anybody, anywhere, including that staggering 3-14 run at AT&T recently.

4. Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt never quite got going in the first 95 games, for different reasons, and if any two of them get hot, things can change swiftly for the Giants.

And if Angel Pagan returns by the end of this month, the Giants might just be a respectable offensive team fairly soon.

They have done it before -- the Giants scored an average of 4.4 runs in their first 63 games.

But then averaged 3.0 in the last 32 before the break.

5. The Giants have motivation to push it a little on the payroll because they have already invested so much on this roster -- what's another $5 million or so when you're $149 million into it?

Basically, the Giants need wins and long pennant chases to keep the money machine churning, and they need the money to keep pouring in because they have committed so much to their centerpieces.

Who are supposed to produce the wins and long pennant chases. See how that works?

The Giants are so committed to the group they have that they always have to go for it, every possible time, which is now, in case you have overlooked it.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.