Bochy maps out pitching thoughts for NLCS


Bochy maps out pitching thoughts for NLCS

Programming note: Tune in to Giants October Quest, today at 4 p.m. leading up to first pitch of NLCS Game 2, and again following the final out, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum gave a thumbs-up to Bruce Bochy when he arrived Monday, telling his manager he'd be available to pitch in relief one day after delivering two innings out of the bullpen.

Bochy reserved the right to do whatever he deems necessary to win Game 2. But he said his strong preference is to hold back Lincecum for a Game 4 start at St. Louis.

"We'd like to have that option if we decide to go that way," Bochy said. "We'll do all we can to win this one. And we also have Barry Zito if we use Timmy."

If the Giants can hold off using Lincecum until a Game 4 start, then Bochy would have the luxury to choose a Game 5 starter from among Zito and Madison Bumgarner, whose stuff has been flat ever since mid-September.

Does Bochy already have his mind made up between Zito and Bumgarner, should he have that choice?

"No," Bochy said. "It's still a decision."

Bochy did not sound ready to throw in the towel with Bumgarner, who has delivered two poor starts while the Giants have lost all three home playoff games thus far. But he acknowledged he has discussed the innings workload on the 23-year-old left-hander with pitching coach Dave Righetti.

RELATED: Madison Bumgarner 2012 game logs

"Any time you're at this time of year, especially with a young pitcher like Madison, you'll have that conversation," Bochy said. "I remember having them about Timmy. So have we had those conversations? Yeah."

Shutting down Bumgarner hasn't been a part of those talks, though.

"If I thought the stuff had dropped that dramatically, I'd worry about it," Bochy said. "He still has good stuff. He's just making some mistakes. He still has stuff to execute his pitches. It's not like he's throwing 85-86 mph. His delivery gets out of sync at times. That does concern you a little bit."

Bumgarner's biggest foible wasn't the two-run home run he served up to Carlos Beltran in the fourth inning. It was the 0-2 fastball he threw over the plate to the previous batter, Jon Jay, who extended the inning with a single. Bumgarner had thrown two nasty pitches before the fat one.

Bumgarner mentioned after his start that he had to compete better with diminished stuff and reduce his workload between starts. That has been a key, Bochy said, since young players often try to throw more between starts to iron out issues.

RELATED: Andrew Baggarly's Couch-bound observations from Game 1

The Cardinals certainly didn't have any dragging arms out there in their 6-4 victory in Game 1. I asked Bochy if he was surprised that his hitters were thrown such an overwhelming number of fastballs.

"That's who they are," Bochy said. "We knew that. They're power arms. They're cranking it up there from 95 to 100. The one guy (Edward Mujica) who doesn't can throw 93 with a good split and slider. That's an impressive bullpen."

As for Chris Carpenter, he's not going to throw 95 mph after making just three regular-season starts. But the reports indicate he's got his previous movement.

"He'll run it, sink it, throw a cutter and changeup," Bochy said. "Still the good movement he's always had, just not with the previous velocity."

One other pregame note: Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso were teammates on the same 5-year-old pee-wee soccer team. Crawford was asked what position he played.

"I think at 5 you kind of rotate positions," he said, to laughs.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season


SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.