Giants should be happy with 4-5 roadtrip
ATLANTA – Giants manager Bruce Bochy stood firmly behind Andres Torres, calling him “a gifted defender who’s had a couple off nights.”
If only Bochy could’ve stood behind Torres in the sixth inning Sunday night. Then the manager could’ve bent over and scooped up the baseball that somehow rolled past his left fielder, leading to a damaging run in a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants end road trip with loss to Braves]
Torres also lost a B.J. Upton ball in the lights that he otherwise might have caught. Instead, that went for an RBI double in the third inning.
He has made five errors in left field this season – the most in the majors. And what’s worse, Torres has played in just half of the club’s defensive innings in left field (304 of 603.2).
Eight teams – the Blue Jays, Yankees, Marlins, Royals, Tigers, Indians, Orioles and Diamondbacks – entered Sunday without committing a single error in left field all season.
And then there are Torres’ other lapses that didn’t go for errors in the box score – most notably, the time he lost Didi Gregorius’ line drive in the lights, which turned into a double when Torres stopped to tell Angel Pagan … that he lost the ball in the lights.
Say this about Torres: He is accountable.
“To be honest with you, no clue what happened,” he said. “I feel terrible. We are human and we make mistakes. Things happen for a reason. But in my heart, I feel terrible, bad. You want to do your best. It’s hard but we have to move on.”
Bochy backed up Torres, even going so far to say “he’s been doing a pretty good job” before changing the subject to praising the Braves’ pitching staff.
But confronted with the numbers, Bochy acknowledged that Torres has had his struggles.
“You’ve heard me say this: Left field is probably the toughest position for a guy who plays center,” Bochy said. “He’s a gifted defender. He’s had a couple off nights. He’s made some great plays out there. He’s played great at times.
“And he’s pretty upset with himself. Even in the dugout, he apologized. But this is the group that will be out there, and we’ll be behind them.”
The Giants didn't score against Julio Teheran and three relievers, so you could say that Torres' misplay didn't make the difference as the Giants lost two of three and finished 4-5 on their road trip. But then there was Justin Upton's spectacular, diving catch in left field to rob Joaquin Arias of a two-run single in the fourth. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons saved a run by keeping Arias' single on the infield with a diving stop in the sixth, too.
Defense, especially in left field, decided the outcome.
The outfield will provide Bochy with some tough decisions over the coming days and weeks, and not just whether to sit down Torres and see what Juan Perez, a breathtaking defender, could do with a few starts.
Angel Pagan is likely to come off the disabled list within a week, if his hamstring cooperates. And Pagan is likely the fourth best defensive center fielder on the team. Yet he has his pride, and he hasn’t played one inning in an outfield corner since 2010 with the Mets.
If Pagan is not moving well, Bochy is going to have to make the same concession that he did in 2010. That’s when he abandoned Aaron Rowand, the established veteran making the big money, and put Torres in center field. It wasn’t easy to deal with denting Rowand’s pride, either.
This is why managers make a better salary than your average bank branch supervisor. They don’t just manage game situations. They manage people – along with their personalities and their pride.
That’s why Bochy doesn’t want to go down the “woe is me” road, whether it’s talking about the all-night flight home or the personnel like Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval who are missing from the lineup.
“There’s no point talking about it,” Bochy said. “They’re not here and it’s a moot point, to be honest. I don’t want anybody talking about who we’re missing. This is the club we have. We’ve been doing a good job here. We’re close to having a really good road trip against three really good clubs.”
Instead, the trip ended with a blown save in the ninth Saturday and then a dribbler to left field that a Ball Dude stops 99 times out of 100.
And it ended with Bochy quietly calling Torres back into his office after reporters exited.