Bochy: 'I can't say enough about what these guys did today'
CHICAGO – There hasn’t been a closer in baseball better than Sergio Romo thus far.
He leads the major leagues with six saves in six attempts. Opposing hitters are 2 for 20 against him. He’s struck out 10 and hasn’t walked a batter.
And when he truly needed to turn up the volume for the first time all year, Romo had the same mettle and moxie – and stuff – to get the job done.
“Sergio … he’s so tough mentally,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, after Romo struck out the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to strand the tying run at second base and save the Giants’ 7-6 victory at Wrigley Field.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants 7, Cubs 6]
David DeJesus hit a one-out double and Romo almost had Castro retired on a foul pop that squirted out of first baseman Brandon Belt’s glove. But then Romo came back with a slider that Castro chased.
Then Buster Posey came to the mound. Did Romo want to pitch around Rizzo, a dangerous left-handed hitter who already blasted a two-run homer that afternoon? He had a base open. He could’ve gone after Alfonso Soriano, instead.
But the key to Romo’s emergence from situational right-hander to full-fledged closer has been his success against left-handed hitters. Last year, as much as he swung the scythe against right-handers, holding them to a .192 average, he was even better against lefties (.167).
Nobody will soon forget that epic confrontation against Jay Bruce in Cincinnati with the NL Division Series hanging in the balance.
So Romo told Posey that he wanted to pitch to Rizzo – but carefully.
“Because I trust my stuff,” he said. “My teammates trusted me. I understood there’s a base open, so it’s not like I attacked him. He’s a great hitter and he was in position to win the game. I wasn’t trying to pitch around him, but I wasn’t like, `here you go’ either.”
Romo stole a strike with a fastball, threw his smaller slider to steal another and then wasted two pitches – one of them a changeup -- that Rizzo laid off. Then it was time to go back into the lion’s mouth. Romo threw a fastball inside that caused Rizzo to jackknife, but it was close enough for umpire Kerwin Danley.
Another fearless confrontation. Another save in the books.
Back in 2011, when Bochy managed the NL All-Star team, he used executive privilege to take Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong as reserves, and took some flak for it. Not only did Bochy not give a hoot about that, but he was deeply disappointed that he couldn't wedge Romo on the team, too. He lobbied hard for Romo to make the club last year as well.
Now Romo is in a more visible role. And Bochy gets to manage the NL squad again. So even though there's a lot of baseball to be played over the next three months, it would be a good idea if Romo held off making any flight plans for the break.