Crawford earns Bochy's trust as Giants go for clinch

Crawford earns Bochy's trust as Giants go for clinch
September 22, 2012, 11:35 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Leave it to Mat Latos, an old family friend of the Giants, to make the proposition nice and neat at AT&T Park tonight:

Latos shut down the Dodgers in Cincinnati, leading the Reds to an NL Central-clinching victory -- and also reducing the Giants' magic number to one heading into their game against the San Diego Padres.

So now the math becomes simple. The Giants will claim the eighth NL West title in franchise history if they beat the Padres. And if they cannot wrap it up tonight, they'll have another chance behind Tim Lincecum on Sunday afternoon.

Just win one of those two games and the division is theirs. That's a much more satisfying outcome than having to wait around Sunday night to see if the Dodgers lose again. And if the Giants clinch with a victory, they'd get to share the celebration with 42,000 of their closest friends, too.

There was just a bit of pregame news as the Giants prepared for their 152nd game of the season:

-- Brandon Crawford is starting at shortstop, even though the Padres are starting a left-hander. Andrew Werner has been tough on lefty hitters, too. But Giants manager Bruce Bochy signaled that he's willing to consider ending the platoon at short and giving Crawford the everyday role as they coast into the postseason.

RELATED: Giants lineup -- Nady in LF, Crawford starts vs. lefty

"It's a compliment to Craw because of the way he's adjusted against lefties," Bochy said. "He really made some adjustments in spring training and now I think he's swinging the bat very well. He's made himself into a solid player on both sides."

Crawford is hitting .264 against lefties this season -- better than his .243 average against right-handers. But lately, it doesn't make much difference. He's kept a solid approach and is seeing the ball well against everyone while hitting .307 in his last 36 games.

He's at .357 in his last 18 home games, too. He's even making hard outs. And he's committed just three errors in his last 71 games while putting himself in the conversation for a Gold Glove.

Bochy plans on keeping Crawford in the No. 8 spot for the sake of continuity. He likes Crawford's patience there, and with the club humming along, the skipper doesn't want to risk touching a spinning top.

-- Madison Bumgarner will try to accomplish what Ryan Vogelsong did a night earlier: build momentum and confidence heading into the postseason.

Bumgarner is coming off a much better outing against the Colorado Rockies, but he allowed at least four earned runs in four consecutive starts before that. The big left-hander swore up and down to Bochy that he wasn't dealing with any fatigue.

But Bochy acknowledged that Bumgarner needs to make a few mechanical adjustments.

"He's gotta be a little more compact," Bochy said. "That's where we're trying to get him. ... The last start, he was out of sync there. Sure, that's going to concern us when his mechanics are a little bit different."

-- Lincecum was awarded the "Good Guy" award by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America for being available and offering candid assessments after all his starts this season -- something that revealed character, I think, given all the frustration and adversity that came with so many of those starts.

-- Northwestern is 4-0. And Iowa lost at home to a directional Michigan school. So I already feel like popping corks.

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