Giants

For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

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For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

Bruce Bochy has spent a lot of time in his managerial career mastering the art of saying as little as possible in big public gatherings. In smaller groups where he knows everyone around him, he is a man of keen insight and cutting wit, but the Bochy most folks see on television is a more tactical speaker, giving nothing that can be turned into something, and using his slow drawl to sucker people into thinking that he isnt.Thinking, that is.In 2010, he nearly blew his cover, guiding the San Francisco Giants to their first World Series title with an extended series of fortunate, superb, and well-considered pitching and tactical moves. When asked during the subsequent spring training whether his public reputation had been transformed, his cover blown, he laughed and said, I thought about that, but I know it works.Meaning:There isnt a honeymoon in this job. Itll all be back to normal by the end of April. He was right a maddening habit of his.But now, two years later, the Giants are back in the Series, with a nearly total remake from the 2010 team, one fewer reliable starting pitcher, and enough takes of Well, that ought to finish them to last a lifetime. Bochy shepherded Buster Posey through enough games to be the putative favorite for the MVP, he adjusted the back end of his bullpen twice, he dealt with the disappearance of Tim Lincecum and the re-emergence or Barry Zito, he overcame the minefield of Melky Cabrera, and on-again off-again developmental steps of Brandon Belt.And now he is quite possibly on the cusp of being a Hall of Fame-level manager. Winning this World Series would almost surely do it.Here we must stop, because the Hall of Fame isnt always about deeds, but perceptions as well. A lot of people can be Hall of Fame caliber, but lack one value or another and never get in. See Gene Mauch, for example, still considered the finest tactician of the last half-century, often while managing teams which tactics could not save.But to make Bochys case, lets go to the reference resources, shall we?Games Managed: 2898, 22nd on the all-time list. Those above him neither in or likely to be in the Hall of Fame: Mauch, Ralph Houk, Jimmie Dykes.Years: 18, tying him for 30th. Those tied or above him neither in nor likely to be: Mauch, Houk, Dykes, Charlie Griumm, John McNamara, Chuck Tanner, Bill Rigney.Postseason appearances: Six, tying him for 13th all time. Those tied with or above him neither in nor likely: Ron Gardenhire, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Dusty Baker. And you can make arguments for Johnson, Manuel and Baker.World Series Appearances: Three, including this one, tying him for 23rd. Those tied or above him, etc. Grimm, Houk, Jim Mutrie.And should he beat one of his contemporaries in all these areas, the almost surely HOF-bound Jim Leyland, he would have two big rings, tying him for 10th. Those tied or blah-de-blah-de-blah include Houk, Mutrie, Bill Carrigan, Terry Francona, Cito Gaston, Tom Kelly and Danny Murtaugh.Oh, and he ranks 23rd in wins and 18th in losses, which leaves him just below the same people he shares the other categories with. In case, the names escape you, allow us to facilitate your further comprehension:1. Connie Mack.
2. Tony La Russa.
3. John McGraw.
4. Bobby Cox.
5. Bucky Harris.
6. Joe Torre.
7. Sparky Anderson.
8. Mauch.
9. Casey Stengel.
10. Leo Durocher.
11. Walter Alston.
12. Bill McKechnie.
13. Lou Piniella.
14. Joe McCarthy.
15. Jim Leyland.
16. Ralph Houk.
17. Tom Lasorda.
18. Dick Williams.
19. Dusty Baker.
20. Jimmie Dykes.
21. Clark Griffith.
22. Fred Clarke.
23. Bochy.
24. Wilbert Robertson.
25. Chuck Tanner.
26. Miller Huggins.
27. Bill Rigney.
28. Earl Weaver.
29. Ned Hanlon.
30. Al Lopez.
31. Whitey Herzog.
32. Lou Boudreau.In that group, La Russa, Cox, Torre and Leyland are not yet but will be Hall of Famers, and Piniella is close. Baker needs a World Series title, and Mauch, Dykes, Tanner and Rigney died without one, and Houk have been passed over for years, and seem unlikely to be revisited.Which frankly puts Bochy in the thick of a debate he would publicly blanch at but privately enjoy, namely, how elite an elite manager is he? As in, not merely good for the moment, but in the history of the game?Where he falls down is in winning percentage, where he didnt get to .500 until the end of August of this year, and where he ranks 142nd, largely due to the dues-paying years in San Diego. This is not as compelling a stat, though, as Casey Stengel, one of the games best managers ever, had a .508 even after you allow for the great Yankee teams he managed in the 50s.The point here is that, even if you want to downgrade his press conference work as a unacceptably stylistic attempt at minimalism, you have here a Hall of Fame-caliber manager now, and someone who should be considered a near-mortal lock if his side wins this time. Leyland, who is a lock, will have one fewer title if the Giants win.And in any event, Bochy long ago had won over doubters within the baseball community. He has been an elite manager, and he is on the verge of having the numbers to prove it.The honeymoon for that? Oh, Id say Opening Day still, he said with a laugh. He gets the way this works. Hes been doing it too well for too long not to.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.