Here is a link to my Sunday column. The full text runs below:
SAN FRANCISCO — Woody Allen, the most distinguished alumnus of Midwood High School — my high school in Brooklyn — would have called the Giants’ 6-0 Saturday loss to the Cardinals a “dead shark.”
A team gets shut out, it has a dead shark on its hands. Sharks need to keep moving forward to live according to Woody (see “Annie Hall”), and the Giants pretty much stopped moving in the fifth when the Cardinals scored four and starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong ran out of steam.
How long did it take Bruce Bochy to get over the dead shark?
Good question. A few minutes after the game, after Vogelsong could not make it through five innings, Bochy was sitting behind his big desk in his big office eating scallops. The scallops looked good.
He invited me and another writer into his office.
“How long will it take you to put the game behind you?” I asked.
“To be honest with you, it’s behind me right now,” Bochy said chewing. “To answer your question, some games stay with you. Moves you could have made. But we got beat 6-0. Tip your hat. We ran into a well-pitched game. I knew we had our work cut out with (St. Louis starter Lance) Lynn. I’d have felt worse if we’d lost 1-0. Now, that might have stayed with me a little bit longer.
“You’ve got to move on in this game. (Did Bochy know about Woody’s shark?) You get on that roller coaster ride with the ups and downs, it’ll kill you. I tell the players that. We wash it off as soon as the game is over. Take a shower. There’s a saying — wash the game off and be ready to go tomorrow.”
So, if you, Dear Reader, are depressed about the Giants’ loss, take a shower. Use a good shampoo. Don’t forget the conditioner. Dry off. Move on.
The other writer asked Bochy about his starting rotation. What condition is it in? It was a fair question. Sixty percent of the rotation the Giants began the season with is not currently pitching — Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum. A big percentage. A startling percentage.
Bochy was in a talkative mood. He is a man who enjoys life. He has a million bottles of wine in his office — some wine in a temperature-controlled humidifier thing the size of a refrigerator, some boxes of wine in the closet on the way to his bathroom. But he doesn’t drink in his office after a loss. It’s part of his code.
“They’ve actually been doing a pretty good job,” he said of his starting pitchers. “I think (Mike) Leake is going to help us. I like the way (Jake) Peavy is throwing the ball. Bum. Vogelsong, he was throwing the ball well. I know he’s a guy who hopefully can go six innings. I have confidence in these guys that they’re going to give us a chance to win. They’re battle tested, been in a situation like this.”
Then I addressed the key issue. Is Bochy confident in Chris Heston, who starts Game 3 of this series against the Cardinals? Whichever team wins the game wins the series. The Giants really really want to win, want to take two series in a row from the Cubs and then the Cardinals, the team with baseball’s best record.
“Yeah, oh yeah,” Bochy said. “I love this kid. He’s got a good sinker. He’s got a good breaking ball, a slider and a changeup.”
Then why did the Giants recently send him to the minors?
“We just felt he needed a break,” Bochy said. “We had a little concern about the workload that we put on him, so we wanted to back him off a little bit. The job he’s done for us, I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Did Bochy reduce Heston’s workload because he’s a rookie?
“Yeah, it’s his first full year in the major leagues — the innings, the pitches,” Bochy said. “He’s fine. He’s healthy. He’s ready to go.”
Bochy said the Giants have put no pitch limit on Heston. His arm is healthy. And that brings us to the crux of the issue.
The Giants swapped Heston for Matt Cain. They put Cain on the disabled list and, because they did that, they were allowed to bring Heston back from Sacramento before the rosters expand on Sept. 1. I don’t believe Cain is hurt. I believe if he were pitching well, he’d still be in the rotation.
So, Heston is a better alternative to Cain, a better alternative when the number of games dwindles and a team can’t afford too many dead sharks, and it needs a pitcher who can win. Heston has won 11 games and has a good ERA, 3.34. He has beautiful command of his pitches, uses the corners of the plate like a veteran, and has composure. He just needed a little vacation. Call it a summer break.
It would help if he wins Game 3 of this series. The Giants need dependable pitching behind Madison Bumgarner. Need it desperately to catch the Dodgers in the National League West, maybe to catch the Cubs for a wild-card spot.
If Heston flops and if the Giants lose two games in a row, things could become inconvenient pretty fast. Remember baseball is a game of inconvenience lightened with moments of intense frustration. A grind.
And sometimes there’s a dead shark.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn firstname.lastname@example.org.