Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants sent Buster Posey for a precautionary MRI on his lower back, and no news was good news.
Tests found no structural issues, and although Posey is playable, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to rest him Friday against the San Diego Padres. Posey came out of Thursday night’s game after six innings as well, even though the outcome wasn’t in hand.
“He’s just a little tight,” Bochy said. “He could have finished the game. He told me so. But we got him checked out and he’s fine. With where we’re at, we’re better off giving Buster a day and not risking anything here.”
Posey is hitting .390 in September and had two hits including an RBI double Thursday, but the back affected his swing Monday at Dodger Stadium. He ranks fourth in the NL with a .310 average and probably won’t catch Josh Harrison and Justin Morneau, who are at .319 and .317, respectively.
The Giants will use these next three games to try to catch their wild card opponent, the Pirates or Cardinals, for the right to host the wild card game. (Even if the Giants win out, they’d need the Cards to lose at least one of three and the Pirates to lose at least two of three.)
Travis Ishikawa is back in the lineup in left field, though, and Bochy raved about how the career first baseman looked so comfortable out of position. There’s a decent chance Ishikawa becomes the choice moving forward, although perhaps not against a left-handed pitcher like Francisco Liriano, should the Pirates be the Giants’ wild card opponent.
Bochy said he and the staff are discussing the wild card roster, and they have flexibility because you don’t need all five starting pitchers active for a one-game playoff. The roster could change depending on whether they play the Pirates or Cardinals.
A good question posited on Twitter: If the Giants, Cardinals and Pirates all finish with identical records, then Pittsburgh and St. Louis have to play off for the NL Central on Monday and that’s a game that will count in the regular-season standings. So would the Giants get home field because their record would be a half-game better than the NL Central loser? I’m told no, the division playoff game would not enter the equation. The regular tiebreaker – season series records – would apply, and the Giants won it against the Cardinals but lost it to the Pirates.)
In other news, the Washington Nationals clinched the NL’s best overall record and No.1 seed with a victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Friday. So if the Giants get past the wild card game, they’d open an NL Division Series in Washington on Oct. 3.