Is Bruce Bochy perfect? No.He was damn close to it last fall, though, wasn't he? Every button he pushed, every lever he pulled, every hunch he played, every move he made -- they all worked out as though he'd somehow banked a lifetime of good karma and cashed it all in over the course of one magical month.Cashing out means the account is empty, however, and while the Giants got off to a great start this season thanks to many memorable close, late and thrilling wins at perpetually sold-out AT&T, Bochy's star, which was as high and bright as its ever been in the wake of the World Series win, slowly and inexorably dimmed as the season wore on.He couldn't control the injuries -- 25 disabled-list trips among 21 players, many of them easily classified as "key" -- or the underachievement of 2010 stars such as Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Aubrey Huff and Jonathan Sanchez, but the one consistent criticism of Bochy since he's been at the helm on the shores of McCovey Cove again came to the fore as the Giants slipped from the fore of the National League West.You know the knock. Bochy gives the veterans too much rope, and the veterans often hang themselves with it.It seemed a concept of the past last season, when highly paid but ineffective Aaron Rowand was planted on the bench in favor of Torres, and higher-paid Barry Zito was left off the playoff roster for all three rounds. But it reared its ugly head again this season in the form of Bochy's borderline obsessive compulsion with assuming Huff would wake from his season-long slumber with the lumber.So Bochy, particularly of late, has come under fire from the same fans who sang his praises to high heaven less than a year ago, and that should strike any right-minded fan as somewhat unfair.As stated above, Bochy isn't perfect. No manager is. They all have tendencies that will occasionally or eventually bite them in the butt. They also, because their baseball acumen has led to their hiring as a big-league manager, make a ton of brilliant decisions on a daily basis, many of which most observers are unaware.It might be a quick chat at a struggling young player's locker. It might be a pitching change in the sixth inning of a mid-May afternoon game. It might be dropping someone from second to seventh in the batting order, just because. Heck, It might be something as subtle as a look .Whatever they are, Bochy makes them work more often than not, which is why any criticism leveled at him as the season winds down is unfounded and unfair.Yeah, he probably stuck with Huff a little too long, but if you're going to focus on that as the reason for the Giants' failure to make the playoffs, you're ignoring about a thousand other reasons.In some ways, Bochy has had as good a year in 2011 as he did in 2010. The results have been dissimilar, but not as dissimilar as the circumstances. The man's had to come up with nearly as many lineups as the number of games his oft-fractured team has played, and consistency is a cornerstone of success in the bigs. Yet the lineups with which Bochy came up, came through more often than not, and as such a team that was flawed in many ways still managed to play meaningful baseball into the last week of the season.Perfect? No. Bochy is, though, damn near perfect for the Giants, and to a man they'll tell you that.And isn't that good enough?
SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away.
They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them.
Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line.
The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts.
Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres.
“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”
Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2.
Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated.
“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”
SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday.
The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking.
The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type:
—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch.
—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts.
—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months.
—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left.
—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?