Bochy on 2017: 'This isn’t who we are'

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — That was a Giants flag, a black SF on a circle of orange, almost like the Great Pumpkin, flapping in the freshening breeze and incoming fog atop the right field foul pole at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon.

A rare sight after a rare victory, a tease of what should have been this season, decent pitching, timely hitting, a good break — Jarrett Parker’s excuse-me double in the seventh that scored two runs — a 4-2 win over Milwaukee and a rare series victory.

A little more than a month remaining in the Great Lost Season, when the players stopped performing — for the most part — and the fans stopped coming, and given the farm system and budget restrictions, no one is quite certain how corrections can be made.

Unless, perchance, they don’t need to be made. Unless, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy said when the talk drifted from failure to frustration to potential, this season of 2017 was an aberration, a rare set of misfortunes that now and then strike teams in baseball.

“We don’t think we’re the team that had this rough a year,” said Bochy. ”We’ve been there the last six, seven years. These are really good ballplayers, really good pitchers. This year is different, injuries, off years. This isn’t who we are.”

So, instead of talking about 2018, Bochy's idea is to play well the rest of 2017, to regain lost confidence, find new belief.

No small issue, but with baseball's reliance on home runs, the Giants ought to find some new power. San Francisco’s cleanup hitter, Buster Posey, while batting .317, has only 12 home runs. The Brewers’ cleanup batter, Travis Shaw, has 27.

The cliché is good pitching will beat good hitting, but for the most part — yes, Madison Bumgarner was out weeks — the pitching hasn’t been that good. Which is why Matt Moore’s third straight quality start had Bochy enthusiastic and explanatory.

Moore went six innings and allowed only a run. He left when the game was tied 1-1. Hunter Strickland got the win, Mark Melancon the save — just as it was planned in March, before Strickland was inconsistent and Melancon was injured.

Still, Moore has a 4-12 record and a 5.54 ERA. And as we know, the Giants were eliminated from postseason play in mid-August, something unimaginable in spring training.

“It’s how you finish,” said Bochy. ”You’re going to have your struggles, your hiccups, bumps in the road. Matt had some good starts now. For him, less is more. He’s backed off his pitches a little bit.”

And some would say a little late.

The reflection of this season is as much in the bleachers and grandstands at AT&T as on the field. This is the 18th season for the park, but the first when there were huge areas of empty seats. 

The announced attendance Wednesday, meaning tickets sold, was 40,015, some 2,000 below capacity. Even in that streak of sellouts, which ended earlier this year, were unfilled seats. Now there are hundreds, probably thousands.

Giants fans, Bay Area fans, cannot accept losing. Interest in the Giants and Athletics has tumbled. No longer are BART trains packed with fans wearing orange and black.

The Wednesday game was joyful for those in attendance, a reminder of the way it was. A Giants win and that black-and-orange flag.

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