SAN FRANCISCO — After yet another night when the bullpen took the air out of the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy pledged to hold a summit of sorts. Bochy will meet with Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and maybe a couple of relievers to try and figure out how the Giants can find a better path.
But he also acknowledged that words won’t fix this. There’s only so much Bochy and the brain trust can do. On Tuesday night he thought he was putting relievers in positions to succeed, and it blew up on the Giants.
George Kontos — who entered holding righties to a .173 batting average — allowed the first two right-handed hitters he faced in the seventh to reach base. Javier Lopez did his job against a lefty, getting a strikeout, but Cory Gearrin allowed a go-ahead three run blast to old nemesis Nolan Arenado. Gearrin had faced 100 right-handed hitters before Tuesday’s 7-3 loss and allowed just five extra-base hits.
“We’re trying to get this thing sorted out,” Bochy said. “At times, they’re really good. You’re sticking with them and then they have hiccups. It’s a matter of someone stepping up and taking a role.”
Bochy doesn’t want to go hitter-to-hitter, but he feels he has no choice. Santiago Casilla, despite some shakiness, is the guy in the ninth. The rest of the relievers mix and match, and Bochy never quite knows what he’s going to get. Gearrin and Hunter Strickland have been two of Bochy’s most reliable relievers this season. On Tuesday they spent most of the time on the mound as the Giants turned Madison Bumgarner’s 2-0 lead into a demoralizing loss.
Bochy checks the splits and the matchups and fights for every out. It’s not working.
“You’re throwing guys out there who are experienced,” he said. “That’s what’s frustrating. We’re having a hard time staying out of that crooked inning.”
Bochy anticipates Sergio Romo providing a boost, and Lopez had one of his better nights of the season. That will help, and maybe Bobby Evans will be able to add a good arm or two at the deadline. But for the most part, Bochy knows this is his group.
“It’s hard to change it too much,” he said of the bullpen roles.
The 17th blown save of the season (tied with the Reds for most in the Majors) hurt that much more because it came on Bumgarner Night. A few hours after making his fourth straight All-Star team, the ace threw 96 pitches and left after six with a lead. Bumgarner had gone past the 100-pitch mark in all but two previous starts.
“We’ve been working him pretty good,” Bochy said. “We said that’s enough for him. He’s human. We’ve got to take care of him. We need him all year.”
The year will include a Sunday start for Bumgarner, and the Giants hoped that the move to option Albert Suarez might lead to two Bumgarner wins right before the break. The bullpen let the first opportunity slip away, and once again, it was Arenado with the big blow.
The All-Star third baseman has 14 homers against the Giants the past two years and 18 in 62 career games. He is three homers away from Adrian Gonzalez, who leads all active players in home runs against the Giants. Gonzalez has played 100 more games against the Giants than Arenado, who has driven in 45 runs against Bochy’s pitchers the last two seasons.
“Some things are hard to explain,” Bochy said.
--- This is apparently The Mac Williamson. He made the exact same catch in back-to-back games, and also added a huge sliding catch down the line to save Bumgarner’s line.
“That was a big, big spot in the game for us,” Bumgarner said. “That’s a tough catch. He made it look relatively easy.”
Williamson said he went into a slide to protect himself from the wall, a savvy move for a player who hasn’t started many games here. Bumgarner screamed in approval after the catch. A few seconds later, he wrapped Williamson in a bear hug.
--- Something happened between Angel Pagan and Nick Hundley. Nobody really knows how to explain it. It appeared that maybe Hundley took exception to Pagan stepping out of the box (?) and maybe Pagan to exception to that reaction (?).
“I don’t know,” Bochy said. “I even asked. They had words. I’m just being honest, I don’t know.”