Giants use season finale as tuneup for Wild Card Game

Posey, Duvall homer as starters exit early and bullpen gets warmup

Giants use season finale as tuneup for Wild Card Game

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 9-3 victory Sunday over the San Diego Padres was part exhibition game, part pep rally and part quality time between father and son.

Though the game's outcome was meaningless, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted to play his regulars for at least a few innings to help them stay sharp for Wednesday's Wild Card Game at Pittsburgh. That goal was mostly accomplished, as every starting position player except Hunter Pence reached base safely. Bochy also wanted to keep the rust off his bullpen. Tim Lincecum (12-9) was the prime beneficiary of this plan, working two shutout innings in relief of starter Chris Heston.

After the game, the Giants gathered in the middle of the diamond for their Fan Appreciation Day salute to the AT&T Park patrons. Pence spoke for the players and jokingly referred to the profanity-laced address he delivered to teammates after Thursday night's Wild Card-clinching celebration. Pence took the microphone this time and said, "First I want to make sure ... is this thing live?"

The final inning was a three-up, three-down breeze recorded by right-hander Brett Bochy, the manager's son, who seemingly never stopped smiling during his stint as a September callup.

  Date   Result Highlights
  Oct. 1   SF 8, PIT 0 video

The Giants had plenty to smile about as they concluded their 88-74 campaign. For example, any concern about Buster Posey's physical condition vanished as he swung at the first pitch he saw from Padres starter Robbie Erlin (4-5) for a first-inning, two-run homer. Posey sat out the previous two games to rest a sore back.

"I'm tired, probably like a lot of people, but I think I would have been fine to play in the two games I sat out," said Posey, who finished with 22 homers, seven more than he hit in 2013. He also batted .311, fourth in the National League, and ranked tied for ninth with 89 RBIs.

Posey played only three innings but still influenced the course of the game. "We came out and had a lot of hard contact early against [Heston]," Padres manager Bud Black said, "but their guy [Posey] shifted the momentum back to the Giants with that one swing."

Among the 12 other hits the Giants collected, the biggest ones included Joe Panik's RBI single that capped a two-run second inning, pinch-hitter Adam Duvall's fourth-inning homer, pinch-hitter Matt Duffy's seventh-inning RBI single and Joaquin Arias' two-run double that contributed to a four-run, seventh-inning outburst.

Duffy increased his pinch-hitting average to .400 (6-for-15). And the Giants finished with 132 homers, representing their highest total since 2010 (162). Panik, Duvall and Duffy are part of the rookie brigade that has helped revive the Giants.

"We've had some really good things happen the last couple of months," Bochy said. "I'd hate to think where we'd be without any of those guys."

Lincecum looked ready to thrive in the role he filled in the 2012 postseason, when he excelled after moving from the starting rotation to the bullpen, pitching 13 innings in five games and allowing one earned run and three hits while walking two and striking out 17.

The afternoon ended with the younger Bochy's perfect inning. He nearly struck out the side, but Cameron Maybin spoiled that by lining out to center. That did nothing to tarnish Bochy's third appearance for the Giants and his dad.

"It was a very special moment for me," Bruce Bochy said. "This lineup card, I will save."

Such sentimentality won't be a factor in the postseason. But emotion could be as the Giants strive to overcome the disadvantages that come with being a Wild Card entrant.

"Right now we're not guaranteed another game at home," Pence roared to the fans. "It's another part of the journey."

For now, the Giants are happy to be part of baseball's postseason traveling party.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.