Bruce Bochy ejected for third time; Giants go down quietly to D-backs

Bruce Bochy ejected for third time; Giants go down quietly to D-backs

PHOENIX -- The visiting manager's office at Chase Field is a cinder block room tucked off a hallway in the clubhouse, with no windows and nothing on the walls. There's a small fridge and a few uncomfortable chairs. Sometimes, the desk is well-stocked with hot sauce. 

It is not the type of place you would want to spend the final innings of a game, but when Giants manager Bruce Bochy started arguing a horrible call in the seventh inning Friday night, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher calmly stuck one finger out and sent him back to the clubhouse. 

You would think that, as he watched the finishing touches of a 7-0 loss that had no redeeming qualities, Bochy would wonder how he will get through his final four-plus months as manager. You would be wrong. How do you weather the storm?

"Because you have to," Bochy said. "You've got to stay optimistic that hey, we're going to come out of this ... We're playing baseball. You're doing something you love to do. You keep pushing."

But sometimes, you can take a breather from behind closed doors. In 2007, Bochy's first season with the Giants, he was ejected six times while managing a 91-loss team. He's on pace to sail past that career high with this guns-blazing final campaign. 

Bochy has been ejected three times through 43 games, putting him on pace for 11 in his final season. This was one of the most warranted early exits of his career. With two on and no outs in the seventh, Jarrod Dyson squared to bunt and got nicked on the hand holding the bat. The next batter, Eduardo Escobar, hit a bases-clearing triple to put the Giants in a 6-0 hole. 

At that point, you couldn't blame Bochy if he kept walking and found the nearest bar. But he stuck around long enough to explain to reporters what he saw. 

"They said he pulled back," Bochy said. "He offered to bunt the ball. That's not the right call there. I don't know how much that played into the game but the call was not right. He offered to bunt the ball."

Bochy was tossed for arguing a curious call, but you also could not blame anyone who decided they had seen enough of this game. The lineup left 10 on base and did nothing against Merrill Kelly, who entered with a 4.70 ERA and threw 50 fastballs. They averaged 91 mph and many leaked across the plate. The Giants didn't take advantage. 

To pour some salt on the wound, the Diamondbacks got three hits -- including an RBI double -- from Adam Jones, an outfielder who was readily available after the Giants missed out on Bryce Harper. Some of the veterans in the clubhouse wanted Jones, but that is not what this season is about. The Giants are trying to find future contributors and maintain flexibility. It's not going well.

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Bochy had calmed down by the time the doors of that cinder block room opened. He'll come back tomorrow, ready for another fight, but you could see on his face that a performance like this did not sit well with him.

"I hope it doesn't with anyone," he said. "That's not what we're here for."

Madison Bumgarner passes Matt Cain in career strikeouts; Tim Lincecum next

Madison Bumgarner passes Matt Cain in career strikeouts; Tim Lincecum next

SAN FRANCISCO -- No matter what happens over the next week or the month after that, Madison Bumgarner will always be identified by what he did during a magical five-year postseason run with the Giants, one in which he often walked side-by-side with two pitchers who are legendary in San Francisco for their own accomplishments. 

It's appropriate, then, that at a time when every Bumgarner start seems bittersweet in a way, he is once again standing between Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. 

The trade rumors keep swirling and Bumgarner keeps setting down opposing hitters, and with 11 strikeouts in a 4-2 win over the Rockies he inched past Cain on the franchise's all-time strikeout list. With 1,695, he's one ahead of Cain and just nine from tying Lincecum.

Bumgarner expressed amazement that Lincecum piled up more than 1,700 strikeouts in what seemed like such a short time. He said he might have to send a message to Cain, his mentor and friend. More than anything, he seemed humbled by that kind of company. 

"It's pretty special to me to be on any kind of leaderboard or close to the top on certain things for this organization," Bumgarner said. "It's been around a long time and a lot of really good players have come through here, so that's definitely an honor."

With 10 more strikeouts, Bumgarner will trail just Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Amos Rusie on the franchise list, with Marichal the all-time leader (2,281) as a San Francisco Giant. It's not a lock that Bumgarner will get a chance to keep climbing. Every start these days could be his last in orange and black, but on Tuesday the 31,000 in attendance were treated to another throwback performance.  

Both pitchers seemed to take advantage of the shadows in the first inning, combining for five strikeouts, but Bumgarner was able to keep his momentum going as the lineup chipped away at Rockies right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. Bumgarner struck out a pair in each of the first three innings and was perfect until Ian Desmond hit a flat changeup into the left field seats with one out in the fourth. 

Bumgarner struck out at least one hitter in each of his six innings, but a defensive misplay put him on his heels near the end of the rope. With two outs and a runner on second in the sixth, Alex Dickerson lost a pop-up to left in the lights as the Rockies cut the deficit to 3-2. Bumgarner responded by freezing Ryan McMahon with a fastball on his final pitch of the night. 

That strikeout gave Bumgarner 11 for the first time since April 2, 2017, which was his last double-digit strikeout performance and a start that came three weeks before the dirt bike crash. Six of the strikeouts came on a curveball that subtly changed speeds throughout the night. 

"He had his good fastball but at the same time, the off-speed pitches," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had a good mix going with good command."

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Bumgarner had something else, too. After a start in Los Angeles last Thursday that was one of the worst of his career, he realized he had become too predictable to one side of the plate. 

"These guys are too good to do that to," he said. "The plate is small enough as it is, so you'd better use the whole thing."

Rockies vs. Giants lineups: Why Bruce Bochy has Brandon Belt leading off


Rockies vs. Giants lineups: Why Bruce Bochy has Brandon Belt leading off

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants on Tuesday will have a No. 2 hitter who was in the minors when the season started, a cleanup hitter who has played just four games with the team, and a No. 5 hitter who began the season in Toronto. But that's not what stood out when the lineup went up. 

Brandon Belt is hitting leadoff for just the second time in his career. Belt is not your prototypical leadoff hitter but he leads the team with a .359 on-base percentage and nobody else is particularly close. Joe Panik is the next highest among regulars at .317. 

"Hopefully he gets on base. He's a good on-base guy, but also a power threat," manager Bruce Bochy said of the decision. "It's fair to say offensively we've had our struggles and sometimes you change thing to see if you get out of that rut, especially here at home. We've had a lot of games where we've scored two runs or less."

The Giants got blanked 2-0 in the first game of this series with the Rockies. They rank last in the Majors with 116 runs scored at home and have a .284 team on-base percentage at Oracle Park. Bochy said he has thought about making the change for a few days. 

"If it doesn't work you can look at me," he said, laughing.

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Here are tonight's full lineups: 

Colorado Rockies (41-37)
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) RF
2. Ian Desmond (R) CF
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. David Dahl (L) LF
5. Chris Iannetta (R) C
6. Ryan McMahon (L) 2B
7. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
8. Garrett Hampson (R) SS
9. Chi Chi Gonzalez (R) P (2019 season debut)

San Francisco Giants (33-44)
1. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
2. Mike Yastrzemski (L) RF
3. Buster Posey (R) C
4. Alex Dickerson (L) LF
5. Kevin Pillar (R) CF
6. Evan Longoria (R) 3B
7. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
8. Donovan Solano (R) 2B
9. Madison Bumgarner (R) P (3-7, 4.28 ERA)