Bochy needs to shake up Giants’ lineup 

click to enlarge The Giants could use a jolt of offense and putting Hunter Pence into the leadoff position might be one answer. - MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP
  • Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
  • The Giants could use a jolt of offense and putting Hunter Pence into the leadoff position might be one answer.

Game 1 offered pure playoff baseball. Beautiful, clean, crisp. We'll remember only the good — mainly, Jake Peavy's guts, growls and guile on the mound.

Tim Hudson, a grizzled, salty old vet cut from the same cloth as Peavy — two good ol' boys who go way back, as a matter of fact — provided more of the same in Game 2. But because Game 2 actually morphed into Game 2.5 or 2.9 or 2.18 or whatever you want to call that marathon, very few people outside of his family will remember Hudson's crucial role in the victory.

Rather, history's reflection of Game 2 in its entirety will be that of Matt Williams taking the ball from Jordan Zimmermann in the ninth inning. Brandon Belt's 18th-inning home run will certainly get a ton of play by the Bay, but nationally it will be all about the Nationals manager's really bad decision.

Game 3 will be remembered mostly for another mental miscue, committed by an incredibly unlikely culprit: Buster Posey. It was Posey, he admitted, who advised Madison Bumgarner's ill-advised throw to third base that provided the Washington Nationals the impetus to all the offense they would need to force avert a sweep in their best-of-five National League Division Series against the never-say-die Giants.

Today's Game 4 could very well come down to decisions, too, only these monumental decisions will have to be made before a single pitch is thrown.

Sitting on a 2-0 series lead, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy could be excused for overlooking the fact that his team had been held to five runs in the equivalent of three games. Now that it's six runs in the equivalent of four games, Bochy almost certainly feels compelled to do something with that stagnant lineup of his.

More Gregor Blanco and his steady stream of flyouts in the leadoff spot, anyone? Didn't think so. More Travis Ishikawa, period, anyone? Double didn't think so. It's probably unfair to put in all the blame on those two struggling journeyman, but who said anything about baseball being fair? Moving one, or both, out of their current spot just makes too much sense to not be done.

So what does Bochy do? Here's the solution: Belt to left, Ishikawa to the bench, Posey to first base, rookie Andrew Susac behind the plate, Hunter Pence in the leadoff spot and Blanco to anywhere but in the top two-thirds of the order.

Such a flurry of bold moves might reek of panic in some quarters, but as we've seen for a couple months now, a little Panik can be a good thing for this club.

Joe Panik is handling the postseason just fine, thank you. Who's to say Susac won't, too? And don't you think Posey could use a bit of a break after catching 36 innings in the first three games? It's not like he's a butcher at first base, either, and we all know that Belt represents a significant upgrade defensively over Ishikawa, who happens to be a terrific pinch-hitter. As for Blanco, well, it's just time. You need his glove in the outfield, but you certainly don't need his bat anywhere near the top of the order. Enter Pence, who makes sense just about anywhere.

It's just time in general. Time for the Giants to give one of their starters some breathing room. Time for the home team to win a freaking game in this series. And heck, it's time for Bochy, who has a knack for pushing all the right buttons in October, to put his stamp on something this fall.

You can't just stand pat at this point. Baseball is just cruel enough to allow the Nationals to pull a Giants-over-the-Reds-in-2012 here in 2014. That, of course, would totally spoil the local every-other-year narrative, and we can't have that.

What we'd like to have is another beautiful, crisp, clean playoff game that we remember for all the right reasons. And if we're to get just that, it should start with the aforementioned proposal, heeded by the man who makes all the right moves.

Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of "Inside the Bigs," which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ "The Game" (95.7 FM).

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).
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