Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 85 65 - This race is all but over.
GIANTS 79 71 6 Must win tonight and tomorrow.
Wild Card W L GB
New York 80 70 - Didn't advance.
GIANTS 79 71 - That sinking feeling…
St Louis 79 71  -   Gettin' kinda crowded in here.

Giants lost at LA, 2-1, blowing still another ninth-inning lead.
New York lost at Atlanta, 7-3, while St Louis defeated Colorado, 5-3, moving into a tie with the Giants for the second wild-card spot.

Giants soldier on at LA, with Johnny Cueto facing Rich Hill. 7:10 PDT (10:10 EDT) at Chavez Ravine. Cueto is 2-1 with one no-decision in four starts against LA this year; he lost a 1-0 duel to Hill here last month.
New York is at Atlanta and St Louis at Colorado.

Last Night's Game
Well, the Giants proved you don't need Santiago Casilla to blow a critical ninth-inning lead. The latest travesty began when Madison Bumgarner was lifted after seven innings, despite pitching a one-hit shutout and striking out ten on only 97 pitches. His latest dustup with the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig-- a loud and extremely belligerent shouting match following a basepath staredown-- may have prompted Bruce Bochy to pull him. But "Bum" is a unrepentant hothead, as was Lefty Grove. That's his nature, and this was his game to win, and you roll with it. Will Smith and Derek Law did just fine in the eighth, but then came the ninth, and Bochy's evidently-irresistible urge to play matchup. Law allowed a single to open the frame, and the minuet began. Or more precisely, the Keystone Kops imitation. Yes, it was almost comical-- new pitcher, single; new pitcher, RBI single to tie it, new pitcher, walk-off single.  Game over. Four pitchers, four batters, four singles, two runs, no outs, and the latest example of why the San Francisco Giants simply do not have the mettle to compete in baseball's postseason this year.

There. We said it. Among other things, Bochy's matchup madness has become, in our view, a fetish. In years past, he would have left his best bet-- Law-- in the game to try and get the double play, irrespective of lefty-righty percentage plays. The revolving-door policy has bred, we believe, a team-wide lack of confidence in and among the relief pitchers. Knowing any mistake means the hook, no sense that the manager believes in your ability to get out of a jam-- this is no longer about being a team effort, or about guys picking each other up in a tight spot. This is a reactive, blind, seemingly fear-based mismanagement. Bochy, who not long ago was accused of being overly loyal to washed-up veteran pitchers, now acts as though he has no confidence in any of them. It would be better for all concerned if the Giants were to miss the playoffs completely, and retool their bullpen and their approach to its use, than for us to suffer through another of these nightmarish late-inning losses in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff.

Bright moment: Eduardo Nunez manufacturing a third-inning run against Clayton Kershaw, who was dealing, and the Dodgers' shaky defense. Two out, none on, and Nunez beats out an infield ht, steals second, goes to third when Yasmany Grandal throws the ball into center field, and comes in to score on Kershaw's wild pitch.  Kershaw, clearly getting his strength back after his DL stint, went six innings and struck out seven, giving up three hits and a walk along with that unearned run. The LA bullpen was lights-out perfect over the final three, and the contrast between the two teams was never more strikingly displayed.

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