Brandon Crawford

Nate Schierholtz is not a utility outfielder

Bruce Bochy has earned the right to play Aubrey Huff too often, punish Sergio Romo for perceived slights to the unwritten rulebook, and encourage the San Francisco Giants to draft every blood relative. Would you rather have Felipe Alou? Dusty Baker? Roger Craig? Frank Robinson? Doubtful. Bochy has earned the right to make young players force their way into the starting lineup.

It’s time for Bochy to make Nate Schierholtz the full-time starter in right field.

Schierholtz went off tonight. Hell, he’s been going off all season, if you’re talking about the 8th inning and afterward.

You’d figure his home run last Sunday against the A’s would be enough, but Bochy still bought some time. Schierholtz was one of the bad lefties who didn’t crush Yovani Gallardo, when Bochy put out a lefty-heavy lineup. BAD SCHIERHOLTZ! Clearly Pat Burrell needs more chances to do his damn thang, even though most of Burrell hasn’t hit a home run since April 18.

No longer.

Since the margin of error for Schierholtz has been so slim for so long, it’s perfect that Schierholtz almost had a completely forgettable game tonight — even though he collected the leadoff single that started the Giants’ rally that took from them a 3-0 deficit to a 3-3 tie in the 6th inning. But when he BARELY checked his swing in a 1-2 count, with 2 outs in the 9th inning down 5-4, he didn’t just avoid making the last out. His good luck allowed Emmanuel Burriss to steal second (nice job, Bochy) and gave him a 2-2 count. Schierholtz isn’t the ultra-powerful, 100 BB guy we used to hold as the standard for a star outfielder. But in this new era where half the league isn’t hitting 30 homers anymore, guys who can square up a 2-2 pitch and knock it straight into center, then take second after John Jay’s throw went over the cutoff man, are extremely valuable.

Especially if the same guy is a team’s best defensive corner outfielder.

It’s time. Schierholtz isn’t some young guy hoping to make a name for himself with the few opportunities he’s gotten. He’s done more after the 8th inning than anybody else on the team. Why? Because that’s when he always plays. If he were an NBA player we’d be happy to point to his Olympic service and determine it’ll never be as easy to rattle him again, but this is baseball, where SSS (Small Sample Size) is a 3-letter curse word. But how often do we need to see a baseball player make incredible individual contributions at the time the team needs it most before we decide it’s a pattern?

Bochy? Want to answer this? Oh, I guess he did.

Screw Carl Crawford, I’ll take his younger brother … wait, they aren’t related? Seriously?

— Brandon Crawford has only struck out once in 21 PA. Credit for that stat goes to my man Splashing Pumpkins — otherwise known as the high school senior who’s doing exactly what I would have been doing if I was a high school senior in 2011 (blogging like a madman and hanging out on Twitter all day while classes are surely taking place).

– As much equity as Bochy still has (with me, anyway), I still wonder why he insists on stretching Tim Lincecum when the temperature’s over 80 degrees and Lincecum isn’t dealing.

– The weird thing about the Giants is the only way they would have gone young and succeeded this year was if Buster Posey got injured. For some reason Posey’s such a professional that the Giants are afraid of bumming him out by forcing several young teammates on him at once.

– Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Sergio Romo allowed ZERO baserunners over 3 2/3 innings. They’re like offensive linemen or officials. People only talk when they screw up.

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