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