CINCINNATI – Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t have any sense of the lineup he’ll use Thursday afternoon, when his club will try to avoid finishing the worst 10-game road trip in franchise history.
He had to meet with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner first, and given the list of compromised players on the active roster, that could take longer than a Dostoevsky reading by Bob Shephard.
But Bochy didn’t seem too warm about the idea of a total bench fest, even as a long travel night loomed before Friday’s homestand opener – and forecasted storms threatened to make it even later.
For now, it’s clear: The Giants are nowhere near being a playoff team, but Bochy is managing like it’s October.
He took Barry Zito out after two singles in the fifth inning. He played matchups with his bullpen to strand those runners. And even if the Giants appear to be going nowhere fast, their skipper at least has a sense of urgency about it.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Reds walk off on Giants in 11th]
“We’re definitely playing for one win right now,” said Zito, who had allowed nine baserunners in four-plus innings when he handed over the baseball leading 2-1 in the fifth.
Tony Abreu’s home run in the top of the inning gave the Giants the lead. And one of those are so rare as to be bloody.
In their eight losses out of nine games on this road trip, the Giants have played 74 innings. They’ve led at the conclusion of three of them.
So when they get a lead, you can’t blame Bochy for getting a little protective.
“We’re doing all we can to win the game,” he said. “That’s the way we have to look at it. Worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”
I wrote about the infield fly rule in the Instant Replay story, which was posted on our site earlier. Asking for a clarification after the game, Bochy said nobody heard umpires calling it.
“He just pointed,” said Bochy, adding that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips didn’t hear the call either, which is why he let Hunter Pence’s little pop-up drop in front of him. “He saw Pence didn’t get out of the box right away. Infield fly is the call. Guys just didn’t hear it.”
From what I gathered, the only umpire whose voice was heard by anyone on the field was Adrian Johnson – and he was at third base, the furthest from the runners.
Hunter Pence said he read somewhere that “when you’re going through hell, keep on going.”
I told him that he was probably thinking of the Rodney Atkins song. The rest of the lyric: “You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”
Marco Scutaro (back) was available off the bench. But once Bochy used a gimpy Joaquin Arias, he had to keep an infielder on the bench to cover himself in case of injury.
Kyle Crick isn’t messing around. The 20-year-old right-hander, the Giants’ top prospect by leaps and bounds, set a career high with 10 strikeouts for Single-A San Jose against Modesto on Wednesday.
In three starts after returning from an oblique injury that kept him out for two months, he’s struck out 28 in 15 innings.
Angel Villalona hit his first home run in the Double-A Eastern League.
The Giants are 15-30 on the road. Only the Marlins have a lower winning percentage in road games – and they took three of four from the Giants the last time Bochy’s team played on the shores of McCovey Cove.
Meanwhile, there is this, courtesy of San Jose announcer Joe Ritzo: The San Jose Giants’ road record is 30-12 – tops in all of minor league baseball among full-season affiliated. San Jose has lost only one road series all year.
On a related note, Mark Zuckerberg’s dad asks for help when he wants to program his VCR.