Entries in Bruce Bochy (34)


SF Examiner: Bochy pushes all the right buttons for Giants

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO — He’s so very San Francisco, Bruce Bochy — unpretentious, unaffected and competent to the max. Maybe not a genius, but as far as managing the Giants, he’ll do until someone better comes along.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2010 SF Newspaper Company

SF Examiner: Hitting woes leave no room for error

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO — So Barry Zito pitches his best game in weeks. And the Giants still lose. So Zito, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo combine for a one-hitter. And the Giants still lose. It’s going to be a long winter.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2010 SF Newspaper Company

RealClearSports: A Good Man Takes His Leave

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO -- He came to the plate in the second inning, the beginning of the end as it were, and the fans at the San Francisco Giants' final home game of 2009, Rich Aurilia's final home game with the Giants, began to stand and cheer. And there were tears in the man's eyes.

This last season with the Giants, this 11th season of the 15 years he has been in the majors, was less than hoped for Aurilia. His bat had slowed. His average had dropped to .215. All that didn't matter to the crowd.

They were saying goodbye. They were showing class to a player who never showed anything but class.

Aurilia wasn't Barry Bonds. Aurilia isn't Albert Pujols. But he was an All-Star when he had a 203-hit season in 2001. And as the Giants' Bruce Bochy, who managed against Aurilia and managed with Aurilia, would say, even when facing teams with Bonds and Jeff Kent, "Aurilia was the guy you didn't want up there.''

Now, on this Wednesday afternoon, with the sun shining, the bay a delightful blue and autumn nowhere in sight or in mind, Aurilia, at age 38, was the guy up there, and the crowd up on its feet.

Aurilia was the reminder of the way it was, the last player remaining from the 2002 World Series team. He had left, gone, to Seattle, San Diego, Cincinnati and then, because he still was able to help and because he never complained, he had returned in 2007 to back up at shortstop, third base, first base.

"He did a great job of accepting his role,'' said Bochy, who on Wednesday put Aurilia, the one-time kid from Brooklyn, who went to Xavarian High and St. John's University,  as did the great Chris Mullin, into the starting lineup for the first time since July 17.

It was a grand gesture, appreciated by Aurilia, appreciated by the fans, and before the day was done, and the Giants had beaten the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-3, Aurilia would get two more standing O's and a curtain call. Even though he went 0-for-4.

It was his 1,291st game with the Giants. His last home game with the Giants. And when he went to play first in the top of the ninth, he put on sunglasses so nobody would know he was crying. Then, Bochy removed him, as was proper, and then more cheers.

It was a day for nostalgia. Randy Johnson pitched the ninth inning for San Francisco -- and having reached his 46th birthday in September, who knows if he's reached the end of the line.

Aurilia is unsure of whether he'll try for another team or just retire. He wanted just one last base hit. A blooper to center in the eighth was caught. "I thought I hit it just soft enough,'' he said, "and cracked my bat enough for it to fall in there, but it was just not meant to be.''

Nor was one more chance for the postseason. The Giants were better than expected, already reaching 86 wins, after only 72 in 2008, but they weren't quite good enough to get to the playoffs.

"That's the only thing I could have wished for me,'' said Aurilia, "that we were still in the race. But it's been a great ride, and I have great memories. I'm thankful Bochy put me in there and let me have a a day like that, because it's something I'll never forget.

"That first (ovation) surprised me. I guess they had been reading the papers knowing this would be my last game here. It's been an honor to be here, an honor to wear that uniform with 'Giants' across it the majority of my career.''

He'll go home to Arizona, near the Giants' spring complex, and then sort out what's ahead. "I know I won't be back here as a player,'' he confirmed, "and that's OK. But I know I have relationships here I'll keep forever, and there could be a spot in the organization if I decide to come back.''

Asked his most powerful memories, they were less about himself than about teammates.

"A lot of them were when I was on deck,'' he explained. "I was on deck when Brian Johnson homered (in the 12th against the Dodgers) in 1997; on deck when J.T. (Snow) homered in the 2000 playoffs off (the Mets) Armando Benitez; on deck when we clinched the NLCS (in '02) to go to the World Series.

"I guess that makes me a good teammate, because all my memories that are great have nothing to do with what I've done but with us winning.''

Nothing wrong with that. Everything right with Rich Aurilia.

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a living treasure of sports history. A recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his long and distinguished career covering professional football -- he has earned himself a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of America for 2009.

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© RealClearSports 2009

( Exclusive) Giants win the game they needed

SAN FRANCISCO –- A day after giving up 11 runs, the Giants gave up none. A day after it seemed like it was time to forget the season, the season is there to be remembered.

“Here we are approaching September,’’ said Bruce Bochy, the manager, “and we are playing some very important ball games.’’

Like the one Friday night, the one in which Tim Lincecum went eight innings, Pablo Sandoval hit one into the seats and Giants beat the Colorado Rockies, 2-0.

This was like 2002 all over again at AT&T -- a game that mattered, a crowd that cared, a performance that scintillated. Unseasonable heat by the Bay, a temperature of 75 degrees at game time. Unsuspected brilliance from the home nine.

Lincecum hadn’t won a game in nearly a month. The guy nicknamed the Freak, because of his windup and follow-through, had been freaky. Or star-crossed. Either he gave up too many runs, as he did against the Reds a week and a half ago, or the Giants scored two few, as they did against the Rockies six days ago.

But the good times came flying back. Lincecum struck out eight, permitted only four hits. He had 39,047 people standing when he threw his 127th pitch of the game, the ball that had Seth Smith grounding out to end the eighth.

“Tim’s the guy you want on a the mound in a game like this,’’ said Bochy. “He had great stuff.’’

He pitched like the Cy Young Award winner he was in 2008, the way the Giants and crowd expected. And then he turned it over to Brian Wilson, who picked up another save, his 31st.

Monday night the Giants were wounded, blowing that 4-2 lead in the 14th to the Rockies in Denver. Thursday night the Giants were deflated, getting crushed by Arizona, 11-0, here at AT&T.

Nice run, guys. Nobody predicted you’d be in the race, so take a bow and step away.

That’s not the Giants. We see them collapse, give them their last rites and then watch in bewilderment and admiration as they prove to be as resilient as any team in baseball.

Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, the Bat, was back in the lineup after the flu and a right calf problem. He drove a ball into the left field bleachers in the fifth, his 20th home run. Eugenio Velez singled home Eli Whiteside in the sixth for the other run.

This on a night when the Giants left seven runners on base in the first two innings. When Lincecum twice failed to move a runner with a sacrifice bunt. When Whiteside’s attempt at a suicide squeeze in the eighth resulted in a double play, a pop up to the first baseman and Juan Uribe getting caught off third.

So many mistakes. But one victory, a win that moved the Giants to within two games of the Rockies in the National League wild card race, a win that made late-August baseball meaningful in San Francisco for the first time in years.

“This was a big game for us,’’ said Bochy, who can be excused for stating the obvious. “Every game is a big game for us from now on. But remember, there’s a lot of baseball left.’’

A lot of baseball that may not let us turn to football. This is the time we’re supposed to think about the 49ers and Raiders, but stubbornly the Giants won’t let us.

They don’t have hitting. In some games, they don’t have fielding. But they have staying power, persistence. It is not to be underestimated.

Lose 11-0 and then 24 hours later win 2-0. This is what you want in a team, the ability to rebound, the ability to struggle and stagger but succeed.

“This is what you play for,’’ agreed Bochy. “This is what you talk about in the early season, being here at this time.’’

The Giants are here. The Giants very much are here. Not for a long while could the postseason even be considered. They could fall quickly, could drop the next two to Colorado. But they also could win the next two and be tied with the Rockies.

The Giants lead the National League in shutouts with 17. It’s a sporting axiom that if the other team doesn’t score, you’re not going to lose.

“We’re the team behind,’’ reminded Bochy. “We have to catch them.’’

On Friday night, the Giants were the team ahead. On Friday night, baseball in San Francisco was thoroughly entertaining and completely satisfying.
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