Wednesday, August 8, 2012

San Francisco Giants: Bruce Bochy Pushing All the Right Buttons

Whether it has been San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s carousel of starting lineups he produces on a seemingly day-to-day basis or his unorthodox use of the bullpen, Bochy has received flack over the years.
            Today, Bochy is pulling off one of the better managerial jobs in all of Major League Baseball with the Giants.
            It has not been easy this season for Bochy.  Managing the future of the franchise, Buster Posey, in his first season back from a season-ending injury or dealing with the high’s and low’s of Pablo Sandoval’s weight, Bochy has seemed to push all the right buttons this season.
The result is that the Giants are in first place in the NL West and still own one of the scariest playoff starting rotations in the MLB.
The biggest reason for Bochy delivering this season is the way he has handled the team amidst turmoil.
Just one week ago, San Francisco had been swept at home by a Los Angeles Dodgers team fueled by the Hanley Ramirez acquisition and pursuit of big name pitchers and looked to be the inferior team in the rivalry.
According to the San FranciscoChronicle’s Henry Schulman, Bochy held a team meeting on Friday after another disappointing series against the Mets to relax his team, yet tell them to “man up.”
“When you looked like they looked like (on the homestand) it looks like you’re having no fun. They looked flat,” Bochy said. “At the same time, you’ve got to be tougher, too. This game can humble you. You’ve got to deal with it, man up and be tougher.”
His team answered, going 4-1 in their next five games, including a sweep of the Colorado Rockies on the road where they outscored them 35-13 in the three-game series.
Angel Pagan had the biggest response to the team meeting, as he took over the lead-off duties and went 10-for-22 with five RBI in five games since.
The same thing happened with the bullpen, which had been struggling since closer Santiago Casilla blew five saves in his last nine chances throughout the month of July.
The Giants’ bullpen has allowed 26 runs in their last 11 games pitched.
According to the San Jose MercuryNews’ Alex Pavlovic, Bochy called a meeting with the bullpen before Tuesday’s game to discuss what the game-plan was going to be for the near future.
“I told them what the plan is — when we get down to six outs it’ll be Romo, Affeldt and Lopez,” Bochy said. “The lineup will dictate who will be out there in the eighth or ninth. Romo set up in the eighth tonight and Jeremy pitched the ninth, but it could have been the other way.”
The bullpen responded with 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball in the Giants’ win over the Cardinals on Tuesday, which included a four-out save from lefty Jeremy Affeldt.
While some managers take a back seat to team dilemmas, Bochy has decided to take the wheel of this team and steer them back on track with individual attention.
San Francisco looks to be back on track even with the absence of Pablo Sandoval and the struggling Hunter Pence, but credit the coaching staff of this team for keeping them afloat at a time when staying in playoff contention means everything.

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