2014 World Series, Alcides Escobar, Bruce Bochy, bullpen, Fox, Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Royals, KNBR, Lorenzo Cain, manager moves, Mike Moustakas, National League style vs. American League style, Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants, Tim Hudson
The funniest baseball-related thing I have heard in a while is an in-game spot for the Giants’
flagship radio station, KNBR.
“This is Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Yes, my dome is large. Now back to the game on KNBR.”
Though he has a large head — he is reputed to wear the largest-sized cap in baseball — Bochy
apparently doesn’t have a swelled head, despite being on the cusp of winning his third World Series
in five years.
That’s an admirable quality, and one I hope he can maintain if the Giants, leading 3 games to 2,
pull it off. He was already getting inordinate praise last night on the Fox broadcast.
One announcer said Bochy was batting about 1.000.
Bochy’s decisions, in fact, almost put the Giants 3-1 deficit.
In Game 3, Bochy decided to concede a run in the first inning. Alcides Escobar led off the game with
a double off Tim Hudson and went to third on a groundout. Bochy elected not to bring the infield in.
Bochy didn’t want a big inning. Two problems with this:
1) While this has not been a particularly low-scoring Series, it has been a small-ball Series. Both
teams have been forced to scratch out runs. And Kansas City’s strategy, such as it is, consists of
hoping for a lead or a tie going into the sixth inning and counting on its vaunted bullpen to close out
2) There was only one runner on. So increasing the odds of a single getting through and that
leading to a big inning were diminished. A one-out single alone would not transform the inning into a big one.
Lorenzo Cain followed with a weak grounder to short that scored Escobar. He could not have
scored if the infield had been in. The Royals went on to win 3-2.
Game 4 was a much worse decision, overshadowed by the game’s result.
The Giants took a 1-0 lead into the third inning. Ryan Vogelsong, clearly the weak link in the Giants’
postseason starting rotation, was the victim of bad luck on a couple of infield hits that tied the
game. Vogelsong then walked Mike Moustakas on four pitches and seemed to be laboring.
But Vogelsong’s spot was due to lead off in the bottom of the inning. Bochy was hoping not to burn
a reliever when he was going to pinch hit for Vogelsong anyway.
National League managers are often given credit for being a little sharper than their American
League counterparts because the NL guys have to manipulate a lineup that includes pitchers having
Unfortunately, the National League managers get it wrong quite often. If your starting pitcher is no longer effective, leaving
him in too long will outweigh the benefit of any other move.
Maybe such a move is somewhat justifiable in the regular season because you do have to worry
about wear and tear on the bullpen over the long haul or maybe you want to buck up the starter’s
confidence. But the long haul is over. And Saturday night might have been Vogelsong’s last
appearance in a Giants uniform.
Vogelsong stayed in until the Royals had taken a 4-1 lead.
This was one lead Kansas City couldn’t hold. The Giants clawed back and eventually won 11-4.
Joe Posnanski has a good post on how many, perhaps most, decisions a manager makes don’t matter anyway.
But I think these were two moves mattered. One burned the Giants, one didn’t in the long run.
Still, they are hardly the product of managerial genius.