Nice win for the San Francisco Giants tonight, who appear to be getting hot.
Now, if the Los Angeles Dodgers would just cool off a bit; I've felt all season that the Dodgers were playing over their heads, while the Giants were not playing up to their potential. The rest of the season will tell me if I was right or not. It may be up to the Giants to do their own dirty work, but they have to stay close in the division to be able to later catch LA. The two teams don't play again until late June.
Great scheduling, huh?
One thing that will and has held the Giants back is the managing of Bruce Bochy. Anyone who has read my pieces knows my opinion of Boch. The first two games in Milwaukee are great examples of what I have been talking about.
Now, you may say "Bruce, the Giants won both games" and you would be right, but let me point out of couple of Boch-es that cost the Giants and will cost them later as long as Bochy is the team's manager.
Last night in the eighth inning with two outs, Brandon Crawford made an error to allow the tying run to come to the plate in the person of the National League's reigning MVP Ryan Braun. Now, say what you will about Braun, but there is no doubt that he is one of the majors most feared hitters.
Madison Bumgarner was pitching a gem, but with Sergio Romo ready in the bullpen, Bochy opted to stay with Bumgarner for some strange reason. Later, he said that Bum was pitching such a great game that he'd "give him Braun," in classic Bochy style.
Braun predictably hit a game tying home run and that was the end of Bumgarner's night. The game went to extra innings and ended with a 14 inning Giants win.
So once again, you may ask, "What's the harm?"
Well, let me tell you.
This was the opener of a road trip. The Giants bullpen is thin to start with, and Bochy's error in judgement perhaps cost the Giants five bullpen innings they didn't need to throw.
Romo has been lights out, as he just about always is. Romo may be the most unhittable pitcher in baseball at the moment, especially against right-handed hitters, who are only batting .171 against him.
So Bruce Bochy, I have a question for you. Why warm Romo, who was obviously getting ready to face Braun and Aramis Ramirez, and not bring him into the game?
Bumgarner was brilliant, but he had thrown 109 pitches. He was coming out of the game at the latest at the end of the inning.
It makes absolutely no sense.
Unfortunately, proving that he either has a terrible memory, or is just plain brain dead, Bochy did it again tonight.
Matt Cain wasn't brilliant. He gutted out a win for the second straight start. Nice to see Cain get wins when he doesn't have his best stuff. The Giants only owe him about a hundred more like it and they'll be even.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Brewers had a run in to cut the Giants lead to three and Braun (again) came up with a chance to make a game of it. In a total repeat of last night, Bochy had Romo ready in the pen. This time he not only let Cain face Braun, who singled in yet another run to make the score 6-4, but when Aramis Ramirez, another right-handed batter came up, Bochy left Cain in AGAIN!
Ramirez was the tying run, just like Braun was last night and Ramirez has the power to tie the game with one swing of the bat.
This time was a much happier ending, with Cain striking out Ramirez to end the inning and his night.
Now granted, in the end the strategy worked, but Bochy keeps playing with fire and getting burned. Braun once again produced against a Giants starter who was at the end of his night. Why in the heck didn't Bochy pull Cain or Bumgarner for that matter?
I'm sorry, but this "I'll let him get Braun" BS just doesn’t wash with me. I know Bochy is an old catcher and feels empathy for his guys. One of his main strengths as a manager (about the only one I can think of) is that he shows confidence in his players and sticks with them.
But he does this to the ridiculous point, like tonight and last night.
What do you need a bullpen for if you're not going to use it or use it properly?
Bochy's stupid moves almost cost the Giants last night's game and could have cost them tonight as well. They have cost them many games in the past and as long as Bochy is the Giants manager, games will be lost in the future due to ridiculous Bochy decisions and non-decisions.
Hopefully at some point, upper management will stop being so enamored with this below average manager and get somebody who can do a better job. I've said my peace in the past about who I'd like to see in the Giants manager's office.
Guys like Tony LaRussa (if he would come out of retirement to finish up at home), Omar Vizquel (if he ever retires) and Bob Brenly, to name a few. Mike Matheny would have been an excellent choice, and look at what a great job he is doing in St. Louis, trying to fill the gigantic shoes of LaRussa.
Unfortunately it probably won't happen this year, unless the team really goes into a slide.
In the mean time, we have to suffer daily with one of the most overrated managers in Major League Baseball.