San Francisco Giants: Lineup Miscues Nearly Costs Tim Lincecum the Loss
There is no denying the greatness of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff. Led by their horse and reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, the Giants are stacked with quality arms who are known to pitch their best ball down the stretch.
However, even with their horse on the mound to start the first game of the second half, the Giants did not have their best lineup out on the field.
Now one would think that with Friday's game in Pittsburgh as the opening game of the second half that all the everyday players would be in the lineup.
Well, with Giants manager Bruce Bochy that wasn't the case. The Giants' everyday first-baseman Travis Ishikawa and everyday right-fielder Nate Schierholtz were out of the starting lineup.
In their places were utility outfielder and switch hitter Andres Torres and utility infielder and right-handed hitter Rich Aurilia.
With not a single left-handed hitter in the lineup, it is crystal clear that Bochy's Giants were facing a left-handed starting pitcher.
However, was the move to have only right-handed hitters starting really necessary? To take out your everyday right-fielder who is actually raking against left-handed pitching this season?
Not only that but your everyday first-baseman is never going to learn how to hit lefties if he never gets the chance.
Schierholtz is hitting a blistering .476 against left-handed pitching this season, and on overall a .316 hitter on the road.
With Friday's game on the road against a left-handed starting pitcher, the question to ask is why is Torres in the lineup over Schierholtz?
You want to know what is even more egregious? It is "presumed" that the Giants' everyday first baseman can't hit left-handed pitching. Well in reality he hasn't been given a chance.
This is just Ishikawa's first full season at the big league level and wouldn't you know it, he has a better batting average against left-handed pitching.
However, with such a disparity in at-bats, it is difficult to say that Ishikawa is hitting better against lefties, because he has only 18 at-bats against left-handers this season compared to 175 against right handers.
But that doesn't negate the facts. In those 18 at-bats, Ishikawa has five hits which works out to a .278 average. Meanwhile, Ishikawa's average against right-handed pitching is .269.
Not only is it odd for Ishikawa and Schierholtz to ride the pine on the first game back but it is even odder because their replacements are nothing special.
Andres Torres is hitting .258 on the season and Aurilia is hitting .212 on the season. Neither player is any threat at all to steal everyday playing time away from Ishikawa and Schierholtz.
So it begs the question, on the first day of the second half, why does Bochy sit two of his best pure hitters?
If this were opening day, and if Ishikawa and Schierholtz were slated as everyday players, they wouldn't be benched because the Opening Day pitcher of the opposing team was left-handed.
Granted the first day of the second half is not as big as opening day but it is still a game where one would think that the all the everyday starters would be in the lineup. After four days off, it is important that the starters get their swings going again.
However, it is understandable why Bochy may want to put Torres in the lineup because he has hit lefties extremely well this season.
But even though Torres is raking left-handers this season to a plus .400 average, the amount of at-bats is just 27 which is not enough to make a real accurate count to his capabilities, and let's remember that Torres is a career journeyman.
The point to be made is this, without Ishikawa and Schierholtz in the lineup, the Giants offense fell asleep in the first game of the second half.
If both of them are in the lineup do they necessarily carry the Giants to 10 runs? No, maybe not, but the Giants would have more pop in their lineup.
Without Schierholtz in the lineup, the Giants were forced into putting Edgar Renteria in the fifth spot. Really? Edgar Renteria and his whopping two home runs?
Find me another fifth place hitter in the MLB with just two big-flys. I doubt you can do it.
Friday night's game was excruciatingly frustrating for the majority of the evening. For the longest time the Giants had just one hit in this game, a see-and-eye groundball by Juan Uribe.
With the offense sputtering and Lincecum already have given up a run, it seemed doomed that the Giants were going to lose this game 1-0 despite another dominant performance from "The Freak".
Lincecum's seven innings pitched and another double-digit strikeout performance (10) were almost wasted yet again.
The way the Giants ace pitched on Friday, he should have received his 11th win of the season but instead he receives a no-decision.
Get ready to play devil's advocate, Andrew Nuschler (one of our fellow Giants Writers here on B/R loves to play devils advocate on my Bochy articles) because Bochy keeps making it easy for me to rag on his lineup decisions.
Seriously, what was this, his 765th lineup of the season?
Oh, I almost forgot, but if you think Schierholtz' numbers against left-handed pitching are a fluke because they are only in 21 at-bats this season, you're wrong.
Schierholtz' career average against left-handers is .433.
It is games like Friday night's that make some of us fans think to ourselves: Does Bochy look at these numbers when he makes out his lineup card?
Until next time (which will probably be in less than a week) this is my first Bochy bashing article of the second-half.
P.S.: Bochy also used his closer (Brian Wilson) in extra innings during a tie game. What happens if the Giants take the lead later in extra innings? The Giants wouldn't have their closer left and would have to use somebody else who isn't used to the pressure.
Oh and one more thing, Barry Zito is slated to start Saturday's game. Why you may ask? I don't know, Zito has been the fourth starter all season long, and he had his worst start of the season to wrap up the first half, and yet he gets rewarded?
Now he is pitching in the No. 2 spot in the rotation? I understand if Bochy wants a lefty between Lincecum and Cain, but then why not reward the lefty who just threw your team their first no-hitter in 33 years?
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