Five Cuts: Bochy's game plan, what doomed Phillies in NLCS
A box score will reveal in plain sight when a pitcher or a hitter has a big game. Managers, too, can have big games, though the evidence of such achievement is more subtle. So know this about Giants manager
Bochy won a postseason game in which his starting pitcher gave him six outs. How hard is that to do? Teams won only 23 percent of the time when their starting pitcher checked out in two or fewer innings previously in postseason history (36-120).
Only three teams previously clinched a pennant with a starter who was out so early: the 1984 Padres, 1971 Pirates and 1969 Mets. And Bochy's Giants are the first team to pull off that survivor trick on the road.
Bochy's key move was, in fact, getting his starter out of the game so quickly in the first place.
"He was out anyway," Bochy said. "Then all of a sudden all hell broke loose. The guy who saved us was
Bochy brought in Affeldt, a veteran reliever, instead of
The Giants are a resourceful team with many flexible parts, but Bochy has had an uncanny knack this postseason of using them in the right place at the right time -- never better so than in Game 6.
Howard will take some heat for looking at a third strike with the winning runs on base to end Game 6. Just ask
"I thought it was down," Howard said. "[Hallion] kind of paused. That's what gets you. If you're going to call it, call it."
Asked if he saw a replay, Howard said, "I haven't seen it. I was there. I saw it first hand."
The pitch wasn't down; it was too close to leave in the umpire's hands, anyway. But really, more credit has to go to Wilson than blame to Howard. Howard had an awful series and finished the year with a career-worst streak of 11 straight games without an RBI. And the strikeouts in key spots are a blight on his great playing record. But this one whiff was a triumph of Wilson's doing -- a courageous pitch perfectly executed under tremendous pressure.
It was no surprise that
But, still ... this is how ridiculously hot the Giants are these days: Uribe had hit a career-high 24 home runs this year, and until that swing, none of them were hit to the opposite field. None.
The Phillies' season is over because their stars didn't play like stars. Utley, Howard and
But also, Philadelphia didn't have the bench or the fundamental wherewithal to win the kind of tight games that are comfort food for the Giants. The Phillies kept playing for the big inning when this series was decided on a more micro level. It was about not scoring five runs, but scoring the next run.
Case in point: the biggest at-bat of Game 6. The Phillies, finally getting a sense of this series six games in, at last dropped a sacrifice bunt in the sixth to get Ibanez to third base with one out. (Only Arizona and Milwaukee dropped more sacrifice hits than
Me, I'm giving that at-bat to a professional hitter, a guy with an RBI pedigree who is at least going to give you a feisty at-bat:
Moyer has been rehabbing an elbow injury -- most recently throwing as many as 70 pitches in a bullpen session. Now, he said, "it's time to find out if I can pitch in a game." He plans to make three or four appearances to prove to himself and other teams that he can still get people out. Moyer said he intends to pitch next season.
Asked about the trip, Moyer said, "It's going to be an adventure -- no matter what."