Now onto some lighter things.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will one day be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame regardless if the Giants can win their third World Series title in five years.
Bochy can be counted on the make the right move almost every time. I say almost because I have been puzzled at his insistence in putting rookie righthanded reliever Hunter Strickland out there in critical situations. It’s like he’s fallen in love with him. Strickland was effective after being called up late in the season pitching seven scoreless innings which undoubtedly helped the Giants to a post-season berth. But Strickland has been terrible this post-season. In six appearances for the Giants, Strickland has given up six runs on seven hits in only 5 1/3 innings pitched. All of those runs have come on home runs. He gave up back to back HR to Asdrubal Cabrera and Bryce Harper in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals and would give up another blast to Harper in Game 3 that would land in McCovey Cove. Matt Adams would take Strickland deep in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.
Now it’s true that Strickland has struck out seven batters while only walking one. He throws hard, but he throws straight. His fastball has no movement on it. I don’t care if you can throw 100 MPH. If you throw it in a straight line, big league hitters are going to clobber you. In fairness, Strickland did pitch a scoreless ninth inning in Game 1 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals fanning two of the three hitters he faced. But Strickland did have a six run lead with which to work.
But last night Strickland came undone after facing only two batters. Bochy brought in Strickland in the sixth with one out. The Royals took a 3-2 lead earlier in the inning on a single by Billy Butler. Strickland comes in to face Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland has Perez 0-2, but then uncorks a wild pitch advancing pinch runner Terrence Gore and Eric Hosmer to second and third, respectively. Perez then hits a gapper scoring Hosmer and Gore. The Royals now lead 5-2. This brings up Royals second baseman Omar Infante who hit six HR all year. Infante drove Strickland’s second pitch over the left field wall for a 7-2 lead.
Strickland is livid now having surrendered his fifth gopher ball of the post-season. Then inexplicably he begins yelling at Perez demanding he get back to the dugout. I mean if you’re going to yell at somebody then yell at the guy who hit the dinger off you. Perez was confused and wondering why he was being yelled at and the whole Royals dugout came out on the field to stand up for their teammate. It was interesting to see no one come out of the Giants dugout in Strickland’s defense. Giants catcher Buster Posey was trying to calm him down to no avail. It was a bush league move on Strickland’s part. Strickland was then removed in favor of Jeremy Affeldt who, after giving up a single to Mike Moustakas, got Alcides Escobar to ground into a inning ending double play. But the damage was done. The Royals would even the Fall Classic at one game apiece.
In the seventh inning, Bochy turned to Tim Lincecum to mop up. The two time NL Cy Young winner had not pitched since the last day of the regular season and had turned into San Francisco’s version of the Maytag Repairman. It’s true that Lincecum was experiencing neck stiffness over the weekend a stomach bug kept Timmy out of action in Game 1. But I would like to think that Bochy should have used Lincecum in some of the spots he put Strickland in during the NLDS and NLCS.
In any case, Timmy rose to the occasion pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in which he struck out two batters. But with two strikes on Perez in the bottom of the eighth, Lincecum motioned for the trainer to come out. He told them he was experiencing back stiffness and came out of the game in favor of Giants closer Santiago Casilla who then struck out Perez to end the inning. Well, stiffness of some sort is bound to happen if you haven’t pitched in 24 days. Fortunately, Timmy walked off the field under his own power and may be able to pitch when the Series resumes in San Francisco on Friday night.
At this point, Bochy is better off using The Freak rather than The Shriek.