Hector Sanchez Powers Giants Over Brewers in Extras

In the first inning of this game, Buster Posey unloaded a monster of a three-run homer into the left field bleachers. It was only the third three-run homer of the season for the Giants (along with zero grand slams), and it was their first in about a month.

So Madison Bumgarner took the mound with a three-run lead; and that was supposed to be enough. Because he’s Madison Bumgarner. He’s been great all season long (3.10 ERA across his first eight starts), but we had yet to see the overpowering Bumgarner — the one that would rack up double-digit strikeouts toward the end of last season. And for the first time in 2012, that Bumgarner made his appearance.

He was phenomenal. In the first inning, he retired the side in order. In the third, he struck out the side in order (all three of them swinging strikeouts). In the fourth, he set down the heart of the Brewers’ order (admittedly not as intimidating with Prince Fielder now in Detroit) on nine pitches. Through five innings, he had recorded seven strikeouts (already a new season-high), with just two hits and one walk allowed.

Then the Brewers managed to score a run off of Bumgarner in the sixth, but that wasn’t all his fault. Ryan Braun had reached on a single to second base that wasn’t played very well by Charlie Culberson, and Nate Schierholtz — uncharacteristically — failed to keep Braun from scoring on a double to right field. He had run into the wall, and couldn’t fire off a good throw.

In any event, Bumgarner got out of the inning without much damage done, and continued to cruise along. The seventh inning was an eight-pitch 1-2-3. In the eighth, Bumgarner struck out the first two batters he faced — bringing him to a total of ten K’s on the day. Then Brandon Crawford — who would later strike out with runners on first and second to end the ninth inning — committed his ninth error of the season on a routine groundball to short, which allowed Norichika Aoki to reach base.

Two outs in the eighth inning, a two-run game, a runner on first, the lefty Bumgarner at 106 pitches, and the reigning NL MVP — right-handed slugger Ryan Braun at the plate. At that point, I tweeted the following: “Gotta be honest, I think I’d go to Romo at this point.” Bumgarner had looked phenomenal, but the safe decision was obviously to bring Sergio Romo into the game. And of course, Braun proceeded to launch the ball into the left field bleachers, tying the game at three. Bringing in Romo wasn’t an obvious decision (at least, not as obvious it’s been made out to be) — Bumgarner is an excellent pitcher, after all. But it was a risky one, and — in retrospect — the wrong decision. I don’t think this was nearly as bad as some of Bruce Bochy’s other recent failures with pitching management. But it also wasn’t an isolated incident. It seems like time and again, Bochy leaves a pitcher in just too long. And it’s been costly.

I’m not sure that was even his worst decision, though. How about leaving Brett Pill in the game to bat in an important situation (runners on the corners, less than two outs) against right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez, only to bring Brandon Belt into the game the next half-inning?

…then another five innings happened. And Hector Sanchez was double-switched into the game (a prudent measure, given that Buster Posey had just ended the previous inning, and had already caught 13 innings). And, leading off the fourteenth inning, he crushed a ball into the Brewers’ bullpen to give the Giants the lead. The homer brought his line up to .297/.299/.438 for the season (no, that OBP isn’t a typo). But hey, that’s good for a 99 wRC+. Which is great for a catcher. It’s amazing what a homer can do to a player’s numbers, even this late in the season (Sanchez entered the game with his wRC+ at 80).

Anyway, after going scoreless for 12 consecutive innings, they actually won. With some sloppy defense, fruitless offense, and questionable decisions, they made it tougher than it needed to be. But they won.

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5 thoughts on “Hector Sanchez Powers Giants Over Brewers in Extras

  1. Going to Romo was a natural decision, all things considered. It’s the 8th inning, which is Romo’s natural territory, and Bumgarner’s pitch count was already high. Braun bats right and Bumgarner is an LHP. Bochy can’t even hide behind the “chasing pitcher wins” argument because Bumgarner was already setup to be the winning pitcher. Even ignoring the two storylines of “Crawford Error leads to tying/go ahead run” or “Bochy pushes starter, starter gives up HR” there was no good reason to not have Romo go for Braun. It was a stubborn move from a manager who built up a reputation as a good bullpen manager.

    Bochy’s mismanagement of his pitchers will eventually catch up to SF. I can’t shake off that 13 inning game in Cincinnati last year that was the turning point in the Giants’ season, where Bochy burned up the bullpen and the team went into free fall during August against terrible teams. How has San Francisco managed to never have a serious injury to a SP? By having a good, flexible bullpen that can handle inning loads to keep pitch counts under control. By not using Romo against Braun, Bochy paid the price by burning Affeldt, Hensley and Casilla and weakens his bullpen for tomorrow. How’s he going to make up for it? By pushing Matt Cain to go deep tomorrow.

    Trust has been a major problem with Bochy and the bullpen this year. Mentally, he’s been a tad unhinged since Brian Wilson had Tommy John, compared against how he was last year when Wilson was merely “injured” but hope existed he could recover soon. It’s easy to understand when he doesn’t know what to expect from guys like Otero, Blackley or Loux (arguably, he knows to expect bad things from Edlefsen). He’s lost veterans he could trust, like Mota, Ramirez, Affeldt for a few weeks and Wilson for the year.

    However, I think him pushing the starters is a stupid tendency that could be very dangerous. If any of the starters gets injured save for Bad Lincecum, this season is basically lost. There’s too much invested in the pitching staff to risk things like pitcher wins/losses. The effects of fatigue might not be immediately visible, but this isn’t the first time Bochy’s done this, and if he continues, we can count on seeing the effects by August or September.

    The win was nice. But it was Pyrrhic Victory at best.

  2. Again, i disagree on the Bochy leaving pitchers in too long argument. Especially here. Say all you want, but Bumgarner was pitching a beutiful game up until that pitch-a 1-2 pitch, i might add. Bochy may have made the wrong decision, but there’s no reason to get on him. Ten-to-one we (the fans) would have done the same if we were in his shoes. How many times has he stuck with the pitcher in times of stress over his Giants career? And how many times has it paid off? Countless times. This is a descision, that, while in hindsight seems bad, most of us would have done the same.

  3. Bochy may have made the wrong decision, but there’s no reason to get on him.

    That seems like a contradictory statement, no? He made the wrong decision — that’s a reason to get on him.

  4. Did i say he made the right descision? No. I didn’t make a contradictory statement. Every bad descision a Manager makes is not always a reason to get on him. I’m sure you agree. But in this incident, there was a good case for the descision he made-a very good case, given the way Bumgarner was pitching. I don’t believe Bochy is given enough credit-he’s a great manager-i wouldn’t trade him for any other (except maybe Tony La Russa, if we could coax him out of retirement).

    • I think Bochy is a decent manager. But I have a hard time ignoring the fact that he has been leaving pitchers in the game too long — he’s done it many times already this season.

      (That said, last night, for example, I was happy that he wasn’t hesitant to use Santiago Casilla in a tied game).

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