Saturday, July 26, 2008
How To Defend For Yourself
All the news of late has been off the field, and with Our Washington Nationals on the West Coast this week, staying up late to watch the games in San Francisco and Los Angeles has been pretty much out of the question. Real Work (Thanks Barack, see you in Denver) has brought me in early every day this week.
So--getting back to baseball--there were two moments over the past two games that are worth mentioning. One, concerning The San Francisco Giants on Thursday Afternoon, the other, last night at Dodger Stadium.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy showed tremendous GUTS, during the Getaway Game in San Francisco, to stick with Matt Cain with his starter teetering on the edge of losing the ballgame. The fact that Bochy left Cain in there with only one out, runners on 2nd and 3rd in the top of the 9th, leading just 1-0 against Washington--scored huge points down the line. Bruce showed trust and gave confidence to his youngster. Telling Cain, he is the man for the job. I liked that.
In fact, yesterday afternoon, a friend of mine and I discussed this moment at length. "That was old school!!," he said. "Bruce Bochy understood this was a game between two last place teams that meant little in the standings. So, instead of doing what every single other manager in the game will automatically do--he ran out to mound and told Cain--'This is your Game!' Terrific. Just think how much that will resonate down the line, when The Giants are playing more important games again."
Great Point and something Our Manager Manny Acta must have noticed and followed through on last night in Los Angeles. Over the course of the 2008 Season, Our Number 14 has protected John Lannan. If he gets in trouble, Manny may let Our Number 31 finish the inning--even if tagged for some runs--but rarely allowing the young southpaw to return to the mound to start the following frame.
After losing his control and confidence in the 6th against The Dodgers--John Lannan gave up three runs--with two outs. Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire jogged out to calm John down. He finished the inning and Manny rewarded John for his composure, by allowing Our Number 31 to finish strong in the bottom of the 7th before removing him from the game.
It's important to understand--that one move will pay dividends down the line. John Lannan lost last night, but he won the respect and confidence from the coaching staff that directly leads to success down the line.
Major League Teams, some times, need to quit doing everything "BY THE BOOK", protecting every single pitcher, the very moment one gets into trouble. Matt Cain learned an important lesson in San Francisco on Thursday Afternoon. How to defend for Himself. The same education John Lannan was schooled on last night in Los Angeles.
I like that when a Manager hands the ball to his starter and says--"Bring This Baby Home!! Go The Distance!"
As Don Sutton told The African Queen and I last year, in an interview--he doesn't like how today's pitchers are handled. "It's like telling a kid if you get all “C’s” throughout your High School Career, you are a great student. That’s BULL!!."
This Hall of Famer believes more pitchers should be given the opportunity Matt Cain and John Lannan were handed over the past 48 Hours. I agree. There is time for relief. And there is a time to defend for yourself. And no time better, than when your team has little to play for--in the standings.
Good for Bruce Bochy. Good for Manny Acta. Let's see more of that over the next few months. Our Washington Nationals can only win--in the long run--giving their pitchers the opportunity to wiggle out of their own mess.
Matt Cain Photo--(AP) Jeff Chiu
John Lannan Photo--(A) Mark J. Terrill