With the NFL season starting, if you have stopped paying attention to baseball in the Bay Area, no one can blame you. The A’s are terrible, the Giants are inventing new ways to lose, and both local NFL teams are undefeated through Week 1. That being said, the Giants are still playing for something, and it may be time to start doubting their manager.
Bruce Bochy is a no doubter for the Hall of Fame whenever he decides to retire. He was involved in both appearances in the World Series for the San Diego Padres, and has led the Giants to 3 titles in 6 years.
At the beginning of the season if you told me I’d be writing an article doubting the manager that has brought me the most joy of any team I follow, I’d probably slap you. However, times have changed.
I’ve written 2 articles lamenting the Giants’ atrocious bullpen that is highlighted by one of the worst closing situations I can remember in baseball. Santiago Casilla has been nothing short of awful this season, and Bochy has been reluctant to give anyone else a shot.
After Casilla blew a save last week, Bochy announced that Casilla would no longer serve as closer and the Giants would resort to closer by committee. Most teams that employ this method aren’t in the heat of a playoff race, but San Francisco had little hope otherwise.
The very first night the Giants tried this method, Hunter Strickland and rookie Steven Okert combined to allow 5 runs in the 9th inning, costing the Giants a 6-4 loss after leading 4-1 to begin the inning.
The next day Bochy decided what us fans have felt for months now. The only way to win is to leave the starter in, and Johnny Cueto went the distance. Last night’s game was not close and Casilla was brought into a game where there was absolutely no pressure. He did a good job, but with an 8-2 lead, there was little chance of him ruining the entire game.
As I sat watching the game tonight, I realized in the 7th the Giants were in trouble. They were clinging to a 2-1 lead and Samardzija was over 100 pitches meaning he’d need to turn the game over to the bullpen.
Will Smith and Derek Law did a fantastic job of retiring the final hitter of the 7th (Smith) and a clean 8th (Law). In the bottom of the 8th, anyone who has watched the Giants saw everything that’s gone wrong this month happening in slow motion again as Santiago Casilla walked down to the bullpen.
I was very happy to see Sergio Romo enter to begin the 9th but knew he would have a short leash with Casilla continuing to get hot. After a spectacular catch by Brandon Crawford and a base hit, Romo laughed his way off the mound for Casilla to take over.
From my small apartment an hour away from AT&T Park I could feel the energy be sapped from fans at the stadium and those of us watching at home all at once. For the second time that I can recall, Bruce Bochy was booed as he went to the mound. The first time was an ironic booing last season when Bochy yanked his son Brett from the game.
Everyone knew. Casilla was coming in. The lead would be gone. There would be a bottom of the ninth. Sure enough, Casilla didn’t prove anyone wrong as he walked Yadier Molina, and then allowed a single to Randal Grichuk after nearly hitting him. That hit allowed the Cardinals to tie the game. Bochy then pulled Casilla for Matt Reynolds. Casilla was booed his entire way to the dugout, which is normal in Philadelphia, but a rarity at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.
Reynolds gave up a sacrifice fly to Kolten Wong and the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead. For the 11th time THIS MONTH the Giants had a save situation. And for the 7th time THIS MONTH the Giants failed to convert. For reference last season, the worst closer only blew seven saves ALL YEAR.
I don’t understand why Bruce Bochy continues to use Casilla in high leverage situations. At this point it’s a guarantee he will not come through. I know the bullpen has been suspect at best, but at this point, literally ANYONE else is more acceptable in the 9th inning than Casilla.
With his refusal to shake up the ‘pen and his odd use of lineups lately (Posey, Pence, Belt all sitting in one game), it’s hard not to scratch your head at Bochy’s moves lately.
It’s time for us to ask ourselves, is Bochy losing it?
Bruce Bochy, none of us want to believe this may be the end for your amazing management but at this point, you leave us no choice.