SAN FRANCISCO – Bruce Bochy falls on the sword Saturday, taking the blame for a grand slam that provided most of the damage in the Giants' loss to the Yankees.
Bochy felt he stuck with Derek Holland a long time, and two days later he made a preemptive move with fellow veteran Jeff Samardzija. The league leader in innings two years ago, Samardzija had just 79 pitches in five shutout frames against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was lifted. This was a decidedly new school moment for the Giants, who have talked extensively over the past month about limiting the staff's exposure to a lineup in third time.
"There were lots of variables that came into play," Bochy said later. "For me, it was a no-brainer."
Bochy took his shot, and the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth proved to be one of the more fascinating sequences of the season.
Samardzija has been a workhorse throughout his career, but this spring the Giants told him to go harder for fewer innings. From the day Samardzija reported, it was made clear to him that he would not get anywhere close to the 200-inline line that has always been a benchmark.
But there are times when the plan is tested, and Bochy faced that in a scoreless game. On the other hand, another in his arm had his spot due to second in the bottom of the fifth. Initially, Steven Duggar stood in the on-deck circle, ready to advance No. 8 hitter Gerardo Parra if he reached. When Parra grounded out, Tyler Austin stepped in for Samardzija and singled to right.
"It's always tough because you feel good and you want to go there and just do it for the team, but there are different situations and there will be the right time for it, and just tonight wasn't it," Samardzija said. "If we would have had a couple more players to the plate and I would have hit the inning before, we go back out there for another inning. If we score a couple runs, I go out there for another inning.
" But we need to win, so we were doing anything we needed to run a run across. "
The proactive move should have Joe Panik followed Austin's single with a walk, moving the go-ahead run to second as Samardzija stood in the dugout with his hands on his hips.
Yangervis Solarte turned on a changeup and smoked it towards right, but Max "When it comes to the branding of Belton, the inning was all over and Bochy turned to his bullpen, having come in two or two short of grabbing the lead.
" "Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. You hope that if it doesn't work the team picks everyone up, and they did that in a big way. "
Not immediately, though.
Instead of letting Samardzija face the top of the order ̵
The Giants would rally back, with Evan Longoria's bases-clearing double in the seventh proving the difference in a 3-2 win.
Samardzija has been open about his distaste for some of the ways the game is now played, and the Giants are walking a tightrope. Two years ago, Samardzija might have pitched int o the eighth. Two years from now, Farhan Zaidi's hand-picked manager may almost never let go of a lineup in third time.
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Here in April of 2019, Bochy pulled the plug after five. It didn't work, but the Giants ultimately got the win.
"That's just the way the chips fell today," Samardzija said. "We won the game and the boys played really hard and Longo came up with a big hit, so here we are, and we have a chance to go out tomorrow and win a series."