Certain losses are easy to digest. Your team gets blown out. Fine. Starting pitcher doesn’t have the stuff to get the job done. Fine. I can handle a 10-2 loss. When a team decides to shave the nerve endings and twist the belts in our hearts, that’s where anger and frustration grow legs and run around the room like mad dogs.
The Cards and Giants exchange leads, good pitching, bad pitching, and the Birds come out on top with the mightiest swing of them all, a Kolten Wong Home Run. Game 3 wasn’t supposed to be easy. It’s San Francisco. A horribly proportioned field with high winds and loud fans. A visiting team has to battle the elements. However, what happened on Tuesday wasn’t just unfortunate. It was infuriating.
Pardon me if I don’t take a standard approach and just say the players didn’t do their jobs in certain areas. Sure, John Lackey gave up a bunch of two out hits in the first and allowed a big inning to suffice. Randy Choate choked in the 10th and blew it. The pinch hitting work from Peter Bourjos and Daniel Descalso was rough to put it kindly. I think simply blaming players in a one run loss is boring. I’ll leave that to Derrick Goold, Jenifer Langosch and other beat writers to lay out. When I come here, I want to take a bite out of somebody individually and today it’s Mike Matheny. He wins bonehead of the day with two calls(three if you count my nitpick) that drove me up a wall. I won’t go anywhere else here. Just focus on Suspect A, Mike.
Disclaimer: I don’t take open shots at Matheny. I haven’t asked for his job 87 times this season. I don’t think he is a horrible manager. Only one capable of horrible moments. I don’t think anyone could just step in and do a lot better than 3 straight National League Championship series and potentially two World Series appearances. In a results oriented business, Matheny is good. However, he can also take proper heat for making moves that a drunk dock worker(I can say that because I am a dock worker) at a bar wouldn’t dare pull the trigger on. He doesn’t escape ridicule. His Game 3 managing was bad, especially in…wait for it…three moments. Two painfully bad ones. At this point in the juncture of a season(Game #169), stupidity isn’t allowed. So let’s get to it.
Bad Call #1
Intentionally walking Brandon Belt in the first inning. Let me set the situation for you in case you had to work today(like I did but kept an eye on the MLB Gameday internet page). Lackey got two outs, and then allowed three straight hits, the third a double. A run was in. Belt was coming to the plate with second and third, 2 out. Matheny chose to intentionally pass Belt, who must have came to the plate in the body skin of Barry Bonds to Matheny. Why do this? Belt isn’t a bad hitter. He is actually a decent hitter. He came into the game 8-18 in the postseason. Still, why would you give the Giants an extra baserunner in the first inning. Sure, if it is the 7th or 8th, you may walk them full. I still don’t approve of that move. Don’t give the other team an extra baserunner when you have two out and another hitter coming to the plate in Travis Ishikawa(who was 5-15 coming into the game in the postseason). Unless the pitcher is coming to the plate next, you pitch to Belt. It’s only 1-0. There are two outs. Lackey is on the hill, not Jaime Garcia. Lackey must have reacted to the Matheny call to walk Belt with the most ultimate shrug of the shoulders. He probably cursed him out in his head. I agree with him. Here, you have John Lackey, postseason horse, ready to escape the jam. You traded for Lackey for this moment. So you decide to walk Brandon Belt. Bad. Illogical. Wrong. Let Lackey pitch to Belt and if all goes wrong, it’s still 4-0. Why load them up and have Ishikawa blast a first pitch two seam fastball for a bases clearing hit? This stuck in my head all evening. Second rate managing. Let’s ask John Lackey for his take….
Bad Call #2
Randy Choate. Who is this guy? Why is he on the roster over Sam Freeman, who has a live arm and will walk less than Choate? Why? Choate gave up a two run bomb to Adrian Gonzalez last week in the National League Division Series, yet here he is. Coming to the mound in a 4-4 game in a crucial Game 3 swing contest. He stands up there with his extra loose long sleeves under his jersey. He slings that garbage up to the plate that every hitter should just lay off. Brandon Crawford did. He walked. The next hitter, Juan Perez, hits right-handed. Why leave Choate in? He failed to do his job. Crawford reached. Matheny has multiple weapons down there. Two of them are named Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, the future of the rotation. Instead, Matheny left Choate in. Perez failed to bunt, but swung at the next pitch foul. He lined the next pitch into left field. Two and nobody out. I don’t care if Gregor Blanco was coming up to bunt. I go to Martinez right there. Make the other team earn it. Choate clearly doesn’t have it. He isn’t that good to begin with. Stop it. Matheny said…nope, let grab the rope and hang with Choate. Randy pitched and Blanco got the bunt down. Choate threw the ball into right field. Game over. 10th inning walkoff for the Giants.
This didn’t have to happen, but it did and in a close one run loss, I look at the players AND the manager. On second thought, more so on the manager. He didn’t do his job. He didn’t set the cards right. He messed up.
Nitpick-Why pull John Lackey with 79 pitches after 6 innings? Why not let him run a little longer? If he hits, he hits. He swings the bat as good as Descalso or Bourjos at the moment. Did you see that big hit he got in the 2002 playoffs(chuckles)? Still, Lackey could have kept going. Maybe, you don’t go to your pen too early and use so many valuable arms. Hey, what do I know? I have been told by many readers here that I should let Matheny do the managing. Sure, because then I can call him out on bad decision making.
By the way, it doesn’t change the fact if I am in that dugout. I do the same thing. Let’s say it’s “let a blogger be a manager for one day”. I don’t walk Belt and I don’t let Choate pitch. I can defend both of those moves to the media and not sound like Batman with a cold when I do it.
This loss hurts because I don’t think the Giants are better than the Cardinals. I don’t think so at all. I think the Cardinals are better right now. We match them in every area. Hudson blew a 4-0 lead. How is he so good and feared? The Cardinals and Giants are fighting tooth and nail and I think the Cards are better. That’s why this loss hurts.
Mike Matheny has to be better tomorrow. The Cards are down 2-1 and the Giants are riding high. Hunter Pence gets to ride his scooter home tonight with happiness on his face and prepare his pregame speech for tomorrow.
This is a battle of extremes, ladies and gents. You never know what Matheny is going to do next.
Also, Michael Wacha, anyone. If he sits out the series(since he isn’t being used), maybe Freeman pitches the 10th. You never know.
Rest up, and eat up Tim Kaiser’s recap tomorrow morning. Hopefully, this rant can get you through the night. For now, it has quieted the noise in my head.