Programming note: For all the day’s sports news, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO -– Baseball is a game of fathers and sons, and sometimes, of fathers managing sons.
But Felipe Alou, Cal Ripken Sr., Yogi Berra and Hal McRae all raised their sons to be hitters.
Brett Bochy took a different path, one that involved a subtle elevation change.
So on Saturday night at AT&T Park in the latter stages of a blowout 17-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bruce Bochy became the first manager in major league history to hand the baseball to his son on a big league mound in a big league game.
The Giants were down 13. The game suddenly felt much tighter than that, along with the knot in the manager’s gut.
“It’s kind of surreal, really,” Bruce Bochy said. “Here’s your son and you’re bringing him into the big leagues.”
You’re brought into the world kicking and screaming, and Brett Bochy’s big league birth came in an uncomfortable spot: two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning with Juan Uribe at the plate.
“Oh, it’s a little emotional,” Bruce Bochy said. “At the same time, I said, 'Hey, I’m sorry to put you in this situation.' You’re making your debut in the major leagues and here the bases are loaded with a good hitter up. But he’s a tough kid. He can handle it.”
Brett Bochy had begun warming up earlier in the sixth and probably would’ve started fresh in the seventh. But Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged an out call at first base (yes, even in a 14-0 game, a hit is a hit and a manager will advocate for his players), and replays quickly showed Carl Crawford had the play beaten.
So out came Bochy. And in came Bochy.
“It was awesome. It was special, and he was there for it,” Brett Bochy said. “My adrenaline was racing. To be honest, I was warming up and I was worried about who was coming up. When I got out there and saw him and got the ball from him, it was pretty special. But from there, it was about getting the next guy out.”
[RELATED: With Belt, Morse out, Ishikawa steps up]
After a called strike, Uribe walked on five pitches to force in a run. But A.J. Ellis popped up to strand two of Kickham’s inherited runners. In the seventh, the right-handed rookie gave the crowd its biggest thrill of the night when he threw an outside fastball past Yasiel Puig’s bat for his first career strikeout. Scott Van Slyke followed by crushing a two-run home run, though.
(Van Slyke is the son of Andy Van Slyke. And Dee Gordon, son of Tom Gordon, trotted home as well. Behold the power of baseball DNA.)
The elder Bochy smiled, recalling that he brought in Brett with the bases loaded the first time he summoned him in a Cactus League exhibition game, too.
“I was proud. I was,” the manager said. “He did fine. He hasn’t pitched in quite awhile and this was a tough game to pitch in. They had their hitting shoes on. But it was a very, very proud moment for me.”
Said Brett: “He gave me a handshake and said he was really proud of me, and that meant a lot. It was great to be able to share this moment with him.”
It was a feel-good Lifetime movie spliced into the middle of a gore flick. The Dodgers’ 17 runs were the most an opponent has ever scored here, the 24 hits set an AT&T Park record for any team, and they hadn’t collected that many hits against their archrivals since Aug. 13, 1932, when Brooklyn won the first game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds.
We’ve seen two absolute jaw-to-canvas shots – the Giants won 9-0 Friday night – and yet this is a series that won’t be decided until the last round. The NL West might go the distance, too, with the Dodgers now back to holding a two-game advantage.
Tim Hudson had little explanation after allowing eight hits to the 11 batters he faced, marking the shortest start of his career. (A bad route and an apparent mental lapse in center field from Angel Pagan didn’t help matters.)
“It just wasn’t in the cards for us tonight,” said Hudson, who trailed 4-0 after one inning and was replaced by Tim Lincecum after allowing two singles to start the second. “Just a little tough luck. I’m not making good enough pitches at times. That’s pretty much what it boils down to. I’ve got to make better pitches.”
Hudson had a 1.81 ERA, held batters to a .223 average and yielded four home runs over his first 13 starts. He has a 5.18 ERA, batters are hitting .308 and have socked 10 home runs off him over his last 16 starts.
Is the 39-year-old running out of gas?
“This is the part of the year if you’re mentally tired or physically tired, you’ve got to try to win ballgames,” he said. “You’ve got to give those guys credit. I thought they hit some pitches in pretty good locations. They got on a roll there.”
Lincecum wasn’t able to stop it, showing he’s made little progress in his side sessions and shedding even more doubt on whether he’d be part of a postseason roster. Even third base coach Tim Flannery had an off night, getting Pagan thrown out at the plate with the Dodgers up 4-0 in the first inning.
And after Yasiel Puig glowered back at the mound after getting grazed by a Lincecum pitch, and then tried to take out Brandon Crawford with a hard and very wide slide into second base with his team up 8-0, it’s a wonder that the wreck of a game didn’t turn into an earhole-hitting competition.
That would’ve taken even more focus away from what ended up being a historic night for baseball, and for fathers and sons.
“I try to look at the silver lining here,” Bruce Bochy said. “Some guys were able to get in there and get some playing time. It’s one loss, thank goodness. With that score, you’re glad it’s only one loss.”
Said Brett: “He hasn’t gotten to see a lot of my games growing up. But here I am and he’s watching me.”