Crawford earns Bochy's trust as Giants go for clinch


Crawford earns Bochy's trust as Giants go for clinch

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.

Recently released Giants pitcher signs with Braves

Recently released Giants pitcher signs with Braves

Reliever David Hernandez wasn't out of work very long.

Just two days after being granted his release by the Giants, the veteran right-hander agreed to a deal with the Braves.

Atlanta announced the deal on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Hernandez was due a $100,000 retention bonus if he was still with the Giants on March 28. But the Giants informed him that he would not be making the Opening Day roster, so he asked to be released so he could pursue other opportunities.

In six games this spring, Hernandez allowed seven hits and three earned runs in 5.2 innings.


Ex-Giants pitcher doesn't make Mariners rotation, optioned to Triple-A

Ex-Giants pitcher doesn't make Mariners rotation, optioned to Triple-A

Chris Heston's bid to make the Mariners' Opening Day rotation came up short.

The former Giants pitcher was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday morning, Seattle announced.

Traded by San Francisco to Seattle in December, Heston struggled in his first spring with the Mariners. The 28-year-old allowed 14 hits and nine earned runs in 11.2 innings over five appearances.

Heston, who was a major part of the Giants rotation in 2015, pitched in 38 games over three seasons in San Francisco. He compiled a 4.16 ERA and struck out 148 batters in 188 innings.

The highlight of Heston's time with the Giants came on June 9, 2015 when he no-hit the the Mets in New York. He struck out 11 and walked none, but hit three batters.

In addtion to Heston, the Mariners also re-assigned former Giants reliever Jean Machi and former A's pitcher Cody Martin.