Here is a link to my column about Game 2 of the World Series. The full text runs below:
KANSAS CITY — Criticize Bruce Bochy. Criticize him big time. Bochy blew Game 2 of the World Series.
He is a great manager who probably will go into the Hall of Fame. I would vote for him. And he’s a good guy. But he mismanaged Game 2, a Royals’ 7-2 win. Even he is not immune to lousing things up.
It all has to do with rookie reliever Hunter Strickland. Bochy, poor deluded soul, is obsessed with Strickland. He has a Hunter Strickland fixation. It is something Bochy needs help with. Perhaps he should see a psychotherapist to understand where his Strickland problem comes from.
Bochy brought Strickland into the game in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second and one out. Linger over what I’m going to write. When Bochy brought in Strickland the game was still a game. The Royals led 3-2. It was a small lead. A lead the Giants could make up. And that meant everything was up for grabs and everything was possible for the Giants.
Except everything was not possible because Hunter Strickland was on the mound. Good grief. I won’t go over his baseball sins in detail — Phil Barber is handling that in his game story. And besides, Bochy, not Strickland, was the arch sinner in this drama.
Strickland immediately threw a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third. That’s Strickland for you. He freezes under pressure. As quick as breathing, he gave up a hit and allowed the two inherited runners to score. And then he gave up a home run and two more guys scored. That put the Royals up 7-2. Strickland was unspeakably bad and Bochy yanked him. Strickland’s earned run average for the game was an elephantine 18.00. He had thrown six pitches.
Bochy cannot be above criticism. He should have known what was coming with Strickland. It was Bochy’s job to know. Strickland came into that pressure situation with a bad history, right there in the game notes. In the postseason, Strickland had given up five hits. Four of those hits were home runs. Now he has given up seven hits — five of them home runs.
This was the sucker Bochy brought in to hold down the American League champs.
Strickland should change his name. Here are some choices: Homer Strickland. Or Hunted Strickland. Or Hunter Stricken. Or Hunter Strychnine.
Bochy should copy down those names and paste them on his bedroom wall. This kid is poison. This kid is a home-run machine.
Bochy had other pitchers to use. That’s what’s so pathetic. Or irresponsible. He wanted a reliever to shut down the Royals? How about Yusmeiro Petit? This guy is Shut Down City. Excluding Madison Bumgarner, Petit has been the Giants’ best pitcher in the playoffs.
Maybe Bochy didn’t want Petit because Petit is a long reliever. No problem. He could have brought in Tim Lincecum who, after all, is on the roster. He isn’t the water boy or a mascot. Lincecum came in after the Giants’ downfall and did well until he hurt himself. That means Bochy had options. Stickland was no option.
Leading up to the World Series, Bochy said Strickland had been tipping his pitches. But Strickland and pitching coach Dave Righetti worked out that problem and Strickland was a stud. Right.
Maybe Strickland tipped his pitches to the Royals. But that’s almost surely not the deal. Here’s the deal. Strickland likes to throw heat. He has other pitches, but he throws heat when he needs an out. His heat travels at 97 mph. You can clock it. The Royals sure clocked it and then they clocked him. I’m talking about Omar Infante, who hit the two-runner homer in the sixth. What was the speed on that pitch? Ninety-seven.
Major league hitters learn to time a really fast fastball. Speed means nothing to them. Just ask Strickland. He needs to develop other pitches and other speeds or he will be what he is right now — unusable in the World Series. Utterly hopeless.
Strickland was not done sinning even after the home run. He felt offended by the Royals. They rubbed it in, showed him up or something. He yelled at the Royals. A man has his pride.
Stuff it, Hunter. You had no business being sore at the Royals. You should have been sore at yourself. Yelling at them was weak and off the point and shows you are immature.
Bochy felt the same although he soft-pedaled it. Asked about Strickland’s hissy fit, Bochy said, “It was frustration on his part. He’s an intense kid and it probably got away from him a little bit.”
Someone asked if Bochy will hesitate to use Strickland again. “No,” Bochy said, still deluded. “He’s going to have to keep his poise. He just came up from Double-A. It’s an area he has to work on because you’re going to give up a home run occasionally.”
Obviously, the Giants have lost nothing vital. This is now a five-game series and the Giants have home-field advantage. But it is a new series. The Giants are not running away with it. And something else.
The Royals kept their composure and the Giants did not. Bochy least of all.
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