Giants youngsters shine in their moment

AT&T PARK — AT&T Park looked more like a venue for New Kids on the Block than a Giants home game Saturday.

The Giants started four rookies and played two more in a 3-1 win against the San Diego Padres Saturday.

The game was tame before Brandon Crawford shattered a 1-1 tie with a soft, two-out, two-run single on the first pitch of his at-bat in the eighth.

Crawford joked about the power behind the go-ahead hit after the game:

“I really crushed it to right. I was looking for something to hit. He was throwing strikes to Pablo right before me so I wanted to jump on a fastball.”

Manager Bruce Bochy couldn’t help but notice Crawford’s hot bat:

“He’s really picked up his play. … He’s been swinging the bat as well as anybody. … Quality ABs one after the other. Two outs there, he’s the guy we want up there to be honest.”

Gary Brown recorded his first and second major league hits Saturday. Both were infield singles.

Brown talked about the significance of his first hit following the Giants win:

“Oh, man. That’s huge. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I was walking around a little wound up and to get that was awesome. It was one of the best feelings.”

The Giants put up a run in the first on a Brandon Belt double that scored Matt Duffy.

The Padres tied the game in the fifth with a sacrifice fly from Yasmani Grandal. Grandal has seven of the Padres’ 13 RBIs so far this series.

Hunter Strickland (W, 0-1, 0.00 ERA) vultured the win by pitching a perfect eighth with one strikeout.

Bochy said he’s been impressed with Strickland’s pitching poise:

“The bullpen, what a job they did today. Strickland, he really kind of fills a need here I think for us in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning.”

Padres reliever Dale Thayer (L, 4-5, 2.34) was charged with the loss.

Santiago Casilla shut the door and earned his 19th save of the season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (88-73) lost Saturday, but the Giants’ future still depends on the St. Louis Cardinals’ (89-71) game Saturday night.

If the Cardinals win, they clinch the NL Central. If the Cardinals wind up in a tie with the Pirates, they will play a 163rd game against each other to decide the NL Central.

The Giants will play the NL Central runner-up Wednesday, Oct. 1 on the road.

Pirates starter Jeff Locke (7-6, 3.91 ERA) would be the next scheduled starter in the rotation for Wednesday’s Wild Card. Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74) would be in line for the Cardinals.

That could change if both teams wind up fulfilling their 163rd game duties.

Locke and Miller would be scheduled for Monday’s one-game playoff and Wild Card probables would be Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04 ERA) of the Pirates or Cardinals starter John Lackey (14-10, 3.82).

Pirates’ Vance Worley (8-4, 2.85) and Cardinals’ Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.20) would both have five days rest for Wednesday’s Wild Card if needed.

The Wild Card will determine who plays in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals Friday, Oct. 3.

Chris Heston will make his first major league start tomorrow on the Giants’ last game of the season. He’ll face lefty Robbie Erlin (4-4, 4.53). Game time is 1:05 p.m.

Notes

Crawford is hitting .356 (21-for-59) with runners in scoring position and two outs this season. … Hunter Pence‘s pinch-hit in the seventh to extend his consecutive games played streak to 382. … Matt Cain underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle to remove a bone spur. His recovery time is expected to be two months.


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