Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – Either several Giants are planning an offseason ski trip to Gstaad, or there’s another reason for those goggles resting on so many locker shelves in their clubhouse.
Win or lose against the San Diego Padres, the Giants will party in the clubhouse Thursday night. They clinched a Wild Card berth when the Milwaukee Brewers lost earlier in the day.
And Giants manager Bruce Bochy was just fine with letting another team’s loss cement their status.
“You do get a little nervous watching, because you do want to get this done,” Bochy said as the Giants took batting practice. “Sure, we’d love to come crashing through the front door instead of sliding in the back door, but this works. Now we can do some things to prepare.”
Including choosing a Wild Card starter, and Bochy all but said Madison Bumgarner would get the ball in the knockout game against the Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals.
“Bum was our opening day starter and he had a great year, so sure, he’d be a candidate,” said Bochy, smiling.
Bochy was asked: What about selecting another pitcher, perhaps Jake Peavy, and saving Bumgarner so he could pitch twice in an NL Division Series?
“Whoa, you’re a dice roller,” Bochy said. “Wow. You’re not worried about crapping out, are you?
The Giants already did their share of that this season while blowing a 10-game lead following a 42-21 start. They had to watch the Dodgers clinch the NL West in their faces Wednesday night, with Brian Wilson throwing the final pitch.
But the Giants would’ve celebrated if the Brewers had lost Wednesday to sew up that Wild Card spot. Hunter Pence, among other players, requested it of Bochy. And the manager sees nothing wrong with that.
“Sure, you should,” Bochy said. “It’s a long season and you talk about getting to this point in spring training. You deal with the tough times. So I think guys should celebrate. They’ve earned this and there are memories that will hopefully motivate you later. It won’t be crazy, but why not celebrate that you have the chance to get where you want to go?”
If they didn’t celebrate, if they didn’t act like they deserved to be a playoff team, could you really imagine them going very far?
In the meantime, Bochy said he plans to play mostly regulars as the Giants try to finish strong in this series against the Padres. He met with the team to stress the importance of these four games.
There are two motivations to win:
--They still have a chance at home-field advantage, although the Pirates are one game ahead of them and also hold the tiebreaker, effectively making it a two-game edge.
--Playing a few clean games might help them build some confidence and perhaps get some swings going in the middle of their lineup. Bochy checked with Pence, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and they all responded that they want to play against the Padres. Pence would have to be locked in a utility closet to keep from starting 162 games for the second consecutive year.
Bochy left no room for interpretation on one matter: Bumgarner would not pitch Sunday’s regular-season finale, even if the Giants could clinch home field for the Wild Card game with a victory.
“We’d keep him back,” Bochy said. “We think we have another option that could give us a chance.”
Tim Lincecum is among those options, Bochy said. And yes, against Padres, Lincecum still qualifies as a solid option.
Finally, Michael Morse is doubtful to play in this series or be on a Wild Card roster, although Bochy is keeping the possibility alive – especially because he wouldn’t have to carry a full complement of pitchers for a one-game playoff, so if Morse’s oblique injury allows him to swing a bat, he could represent a threat – real or imagined – off the bench.