LOS ANGELES The Giants learned Wednesday that they will open the postseason with a home game against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.
But before shifting into postseason mode, there was one more celebration to be had for the National League West champions. Buster Posey was 0 for 2 in a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers but still ran away with the N.L. batting title. Posey finished the season with a .336 average, easily outdistancing Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who finished at .327.
Posey is the first catcher to lead the N.L. in hitting since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.
"I don't think it's something I ever thought about doing," Posey said. "It's such a long season, and from Day One you grind out at-bats. You have a lot of responsibility on defense (as a catcher) and you're going to get nicked up. It's a grind. You have to realize you're going to play uncomfortable and sometimes even a little hurt."
Posey's teammates watched him play through pain all season as he fought to distance himself from a devastating leg injury. The rest of the Giants knew Posey would try to downplay the significance of his accomplishment, but they wouldn't let him. Hunter Pence led a brief postgame celebration, and the team presented Posey an unidentified gift to honor his batting title.
"This was pretty special to have been a part of," Pence said. "He's humble, and he doesn't want any recognition. He told us he's just looking forward to the playoffs and that 'Little League' feeling that you get."
Posey finished the season with a .408 on-base percentage, hit 24 home runs and drove in 103 runs.
Melky Cabrera hit in front of Posey for much of the season and was hitting .346 when he was suspended for use of a banned substance. Cabrera pulled his name out of consideration for the batting title, setting up a battle between Posey and McCutchen. The Giants' catcher ran away with the crown, hitting .385 after the All-Star break as the Giants cruised to the division title.
Cincinnati won 97 games and dominated the N.L. Central with a consistent blend of power, speed, steady defense and strong pitching.
To beat the Reds in the best-of-five division series, the Giants will need a strong series from Game 1 starter Matt Cain.
The Reds will send Cy Young Award candidate Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78 ERA) to the mound for Game 1, followed by Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74) and Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48).
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he likely would announce the rest of his playoff rotation today, and Ryan Vogelsong complicated the decision with another strong outing. The right-hander slumped for much of August and September but allowed just one earned run in his final three starts.
Bochy said Vogelsong's postseason role is still undecided.
"Personally, I would love to have the opportunity to start a playoff game, but at this point it's not about me, it's about us," Vogelsong said.