GLENDALE, Ariz. – When you are in Jean Machi’s position, a relief pitcher on the bubble, every four-out save helps the cause.
Especially when it comes against the Dodgers. Especially when it’s a one-run lead. Especially when you enter with bases loaded in the eighth.
And very, very especially when the three runners you strand belong to the manager’s son.
“Great job there, Machi,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, using a grin to deflect a question about whether the big right-hander locked down a spot in the Giants’ 3-2 victory at Camelback Ranch. “He picked Brett up in a tough situation. He’s really been pitching well.”
Brett Bochy ran into trouble in a long eighth inning that included a single, two walks, a wild pitch, a stolen base, a throwing error by catcher Tyler La Torre – but miraculously, no runs. Thank Machi for that. He entered and struck out Drew Butera to preserve the lead.
Prior to that, Bochy hoped to coax his son, Brett, through the inning. He even made what he believed to be the first-ever mound visit to have a chat with his son during a game.
What did he tell him? Well, it wasn’t “I’m proud of you, boy,” or anything else that would’ve been suited for a Hallmark card. It was more matter-of-fact than that.
“I just reminded him that he had a base open to work with,” the manager said.
Machi wasn’t the only Giant to boost his stock in the split-squad game at Camelback Ranch. Second baseman Brandon Hicks drove in all three runs, hitting an opposite-way, two-run home run off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and then later drawing a tiebreaking bases-loaded walk.
Hicks is hitting .429 and five of his six hits (four doubles, one homer) have gone for extra bases. He’s making the most of the at-bats available because Marco Scutaro hasn’t been able to get on the field yet.
“He’s got some experience and he lets the bat go,” said Bochy, who plans to work Hicks at third base in addition to both middle infield spots. “You want as many options as you can have, and he’s one of them.”
It’s not likely Hicks, a non-roster invitee who last played in the majors with the A’s in 2012, would make the Giants’ opening-day squad. Both Tony Abreu and Ehire Adrianza are out of options. But if he begins the year at Triple-A Fresno, he looks like a nice asset to have stashed away.