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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy faced just one tough decision in his starting lineup for Game 1 of the NL Division Series Saturday at AT&T Park against the Cincinnati Reds:
Does he take speed, defense and a left-handed matchup with Gregor Blanco? Or would he be swayed by Xavier Nady's career numbers (5 for 8, one home run) against Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto?
Despite a solid final road trip that included a couple surprising defensive plays, Nady will be on the bench. Bochy confirmed he'll go with Blanco as part of what will be a fairly standard lineup against a right-handed pitcher:
1) Angel Pagan (CF)
2) Marco Scutaro (2B)
3) Pablo Sandoval (3B)
4) Buster Posey (C)
5) Hunter Pence (RF)
6) Brandon Belt (1B)
7) Gregor Blanco (LF)
8) Brandon Crawford (SS)
9) Matt Cain (P)
"You do look at the numbers, but Blanco will be out there," Bochy said. "We'll have Nady on the bench. That's a tough call, it really is."
The Giants remain a pitching-and-defense team at its essence. Blanco is their best defender in left field, and despite a second-half nosedive, he had better at-bats while hitting .320 with a .393 on-base percentage over his final 14 games.
Putting Blanco in the lineup means the Giants will be tempted to carry another speed guy for the bench, especially if Aubrey Huff is on the team as a pinch hitter. Bochy hinted that he and his staff still needed to have a conversation or two before they set the roster; they might announce it after the workout, but they're not obligated to do so until three hours before the first pitch Saturday.
In other news, Bochy said he has spoken with all his starting pitchers and let them know the plan when the series shifts to Cincinnati for Game 3.
"We haven't announced it in case we want to tweak it," said Bochy, reiterating that Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong all could be used in relief in the first two games. "At least they have a good idea of ... if they don't pitch out of the bullpen, they know when they'll have a chance to pitch."
Finally, in case you hadn't heard, Game 2 on Sunday will start at 6:37 p.m. PDT. Same as Game 1.