Posted October 25, 2012

Joe Knows: Bochy makes all the right moves in Game 1 of World Series

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum, World Series

Bruce Bochy

By keeping Tim Lincecum in the ‘pen, Bruce Bochy gave himself more options. [Christian Petersen/Getty Images]

After each World Series game, Joe Sheehan will offer his quick-take analysis on a key moment or decision that shaped the outcome of the game and, potentially, the Series. For more from Joe, check out his newsletter and follow him on Twitter.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy had difficult decisions to make in assembling his World Series rotation. His top two starters, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, had done their work in the last two games of the NLCS to get San Francisco to the Fall Classic. His next-best hurler, Madison Bumgarner, had been skipped after his second poor postseason outing — on the heels of an unimpressive second half. That left NLCS hero — but long-time zero — Barry Zito and 2012 zero — but long-time hero — Tim Lincecum as choices to start Game 1.

Bochy decided to open the series with Zito in Game 1 and Bumgarner in Game 2, choosing not to bring back Vogelsong on short rest for Game 2 or start Lincecum. By doing so, he took advantage of a Tigers lineup that is better against righties than lefties, for one, while also allowing Zito to pitch at AT&T Park, where his pitch-to-contact style might be safer. By holding back Lincecum, Bochy gave himself options, because Lincecum had shown himself during the postseason to be an effective multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen. If Zito or Bumgarner were to falter, Lincecum could, as he did in Cincinnati in Game 4 of the Division Series, provide long relief.

In Game 1 of the World Series, Bochy showed that he gets postseason baseball, lifting Zito in a 6-1 game with two outs in the sixth and calling on Lincecum. There’s no reason to hesitate when each win is so valuable, and no reason to worry about tomorrow’s game. Tomorrow might be a blowout. Better still, Bochy let Lincecum go through the lineup, having him pitch 2 1/3 shutout innings, which, while probably making Lincecum unavailable for Game 2, kept the Giants’ top relievers — Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt — fresh and likely able to go two innings apiece.

The move isn’t without risk. Lincecum is the Giants’ only long reliever, so if Bumgarner does have to be lifted early, Bochy may be forced to extend low-leverage pitchers such as Jose Mijares and George Kontos, both of whom pitched tonight, in longer roles. More likely, Bumgarner will be asked to pitch into the fifth, at the very least, no matter his effectiveness.

Too many managers have lost the postseason game at hand worrying about the one tomorrow. Bochy didn’t do that in Game 1. There weren’t many critical decisions in an 8-3 game — the biggest one was the Giants signing Pablo Sandoval nine years ago — but when Bochy was faced with a call, he followed the plan he set prior to the Series, gave his team the best chance to win the game and let tomorrow happen tomorrow.

– By Joe Sheehan

2 comments
DavidPerkin
DavidPerkin

Every website and publication, pre Series, offers a position by position evaluation of each team.  The problem with those articles is that they are dry, cold, analytical.  They don't take into account that the Giants are (pick a cliche): hot, smokin', on a roll, have the momentum.  The Tigers need a firewall, that is, a performance that halts if not reverses the Giants vibe.  If not, we'll all be back to watching football after 4 games.  I think back to the 1965 Series when the Twins beat the Dodgers in games 1 and 2, besting none other than Drysdale and Koufax.  Claude Osteen, of all people, shut the Twins down in game 3, 4-0, allowing LA to get back  in the fray.  The Dodgers eventually won in 7.

dinohealth
dinohealth

Meh, the story of this game was not pitching, though you guys were really caught up in it, because you created a myth about Verlander being the best pitcher in baseball, and the Tiger rotation being invincible, in an effort to degrinate Cabrera's well-deserved run for the MVP!! Zito was OK, but, not dominant. Lincecum was dominant. The closer, gave up a ninth inning two-run homer (critical in a close game). So, we have an 8-3 score, and pitching staffs that gave up 11 and 8 hits respectively. Yep, zero errors by both teams, and, some great defensive plays like this one that robbed Cabrera of his second hit. The story of this game was the role-reversal in power-hitting; the three homers that beat the Tigers, the Valverde "experiment" not withstanding, and the failure of Verlander to live-up to the Poster Boy spin-off that you guys created in an effort to degrinate Cabrera's well-deserved MVP run! The BATS spoke, and OFFENSE carried the day! Giants pitching was better, but, not dominant; their hitting, and particularly, the historic power-hitting of Sandoval, was devastating.