SAN FRANCISCO -- The majors’ longest current streak of consecutive games started is poised to end today at AT&T Park. Hunter Pence is not in the Giants’ lineup for the first time since the 2012 season, and when Jake Peavy throws his first pitch without Pence in right field, it will end Pence’s streak of 331 starts in a row.
With the Giants in the wild-card game and no longer playing for home-field advantage in that game, manager Bruce Bochy said it just made sense to give Pence a break. Contrary to what some might expect, Bochy did not need to lock Pence in a closet to keep him out of the lineup -- Pence was roaming free in the clubhouse this morning.
"He’s taking the day, which I think is a good idea," Bochy said. "These guys have been pushing hard."
Pence said it wasn’t his idea -- that when the Giants asked him if he wanted to rest today, he said no. "But they told me they wanted me to have a day off," Pence said. "And I said if you guys want me to have a day off, then I will take it."
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Pence said he wouldn’t have any remorse over seeing the streak end. He takes pride in -- and has earned respect of coaches and teammates by -- playing every day with the same high energy level that Bochy described as "all-out." But he said he understands given the circumstances that a little rest right now could go a long way.
"The only reason I play is to win the World Series," Pence said. "And you’ve got to get to the playoffs to do that. So the streak, or playing every day -- our fate is sealed, we’re going on the road, so Bochy feels that having a day off is going to be for the best, to get a little fresh. And I trust in Bochy."
If Pence were to be used as a pinch-hitter or enter the game late, he could still extend his streak of appearing in 381 consecutive games. But most likely, both streaks will come to an end today.
Pence is far from the only regular getting a day off against the Padres. Bochy said he felt it was important to give Buster Posey, who’s had some back tightness, more rest, along with Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco, whose "hamstring’s been a little tight." He also wanted to get a longer look at some of the Giants’ youngsters who could be candidates for the 25-man roster for the wild-card game.
"And last thing I’ll say, I hope that the fans understand," Bochy said. "I know they want to come out and see their favorite players -- I was a kid, I wanted to come out and see my guys. But these guys need a break, and hopefully this will serve them well."
So the Giants’ lineup looks like this:
And the Padres’ lineup that Peavy will face:
* Bochy said right-hander Chris Heston will start the regular-season finale for the Giants tomorrow afternoon. It’s Madison Bumgarner’s turn in the rotation, but Bumgarner will be held back to start the wild-card game. Bochy said the start would have gone to Tim Lincecum had the Giants still been playing for home-field for Wednesday, but with that settled, it’ll be Heston making his first big-league start.
"Good for this kid," Bochy said. "He’s had a good year in Fresno so been wanting to take a better look at him."
Heston has made two brief relief outings for the Giants as a September call-up, throwing 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and a walk. He made 28 starts in Fresno this year, going 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA.
* While he won’t start Sunday, the Giants intend to use Lincecum in relief either today or in the season finale, Bochy said. They want one more look at him before making out their playoff roster, on which Lincecum would figure as a reliever.
It’s a role Lincecum thrived in two years ago, and Bochy said he could see Lincecum being that same weapon this year if the Giants make it into a postseason series. Asked whether Lincecum is "as sharp" as he was at that point two seasons ago -- he has made just four appearances in September -- Bochy said Lincecum is "pretty close," but that his outing in the next couple days will provide a better idea.
"I think his last couple outings were certainly a confidence booster for him. To get a win coming out of the bullpen (Thursday), I think that’s something he can build on," Bochy said. "And when you have a guy like Timmy, you don’t know -- he’s such a weapon and when you get to the postseason, your adrenaline’s really going … It worked for Timmy the previous postseason."
* While talking with reporters in his office this morning, Bochy had the TV on in the background showing the Pirates-Reds game. Pittsburgh, of course, is one of the Giants’ possible destinations for the wild-card game, along with St. Louis. The Cardinals began today with a one-game lead over the Pirates in the N.L. Central, but the possibility does remain of their needing to play a 163rd game to determine the division Monday.
Would that benefit the Giants? Bochy said it’s not certain.
"There’s talk about teams that fight all the way to the end, and it’s to their advantage because they’re in that mode right up until the postseason," Bochy said. "And you’re talking about, well, they have to use pitching they might not have used -- that’s always a possibility. But both teams have pretty good depth in the rotation.
"So I don’t know."
* Peavy has been under the weather recently, but Bochy said he’s "feeling well enough to pitch," and Peavy wouldn’t have wanted to go a potential 10 days between pitching if he ends up having another start in the N.L. Division Series. Bochy said the Giants may try to lighten Peavy’s workload.
"But he wants to win the game, that’s Jake," Bochy said. "So he’s going to want to stay out there and have a chance to win the game."