Tim Kawakami on a Game 7 decision the Giants really hope they don't have to make:
- After losing 4-2 on Saturday, the Giants must beat Texas in two of the next three games, or else the series will reach Game 7, when [Jonathan] Sanchez is scheduled to start again.
And if it gets there, Game 7 could be one of the more panicked, chaotic, unpredictable events in Giants franchise history.
"I made a good pitch to the first baseman, and he got it," Sanchez said. "That's not a bad pitch."
But pitching coach Dave Righetti bluntly conceded that he is concerned about Sanchez's dropping velocity and that the team must consider other options if the series gets to Game 7.
"Damn right, absolutely," Righetti said. "I'm sure it'll come up. You're not talking about 1 or 2 mph. He's pitching at 88."
Who would be the candidates to start Game 7 if not Sanchez? One is Bumgarner, who would be on three days' rest. Or, manager Bruce Bochy could turn it into a bullpen game and start Guillermo Mota or let Lincecum start and pitch the first few innings on two days' rest.
That would be chaos. And it all starts with the struggles of Sanchez, who was hitting 93 mph a few months ago.
Asked directly if he was fatigued, Sanchez said, no, he felt fine.They always say they feel fine. That's Chapter 3, Paragraph 6, Sub-Paragraph 11 in the "How to Be a He-Man Baseball Player Handbook," which has been just slightly revised in the last century or so (they did throw in that section about viewing childbirth actually enhancing once's macho-ness, and they took out the part about starting pitchers going the distance).
Anyway, I think Kawakami's ideas are too radical. Not too radical to actually work; about that, I wouldn't hazard a guess. But too radical to actually try. I just don't see Bruce Bochy going so far outside the playbook in the single largest baseball game that's been played in some years.*
* There hasn't been a Game 7 in the World Series since 2002 ... when another Giants manager relied on another shaky starting pitcher, and lost.
So I will propose something that's hardly radical. First, stick with Sanchez in Game 7. For better or worse, that die has already been cast. You can't start Bumgarner on short rest unless he gets knocked out of Game 4 early ... and if he gets knocked out of Game 4 early, you wouldn't have much confidence in him anyway. You could start Lincecum, but the guy's not Randy Johnson. And even if you get three innings out of him, you still have to find six more innings elsewhere. Which doesn't sound like much fun.
Sanchez isn't throwing as hard as usual, but it's not like he was terrible in Game 3. He couldn't put Mitch Moreland away. Seven or eight times out of 10, he will. Especially at home (which is where he'll be in Game 7). Send him out there and hope for the best ... with one codicil. Tell him before the game that after five innings, you're coming to get him, no matter how well he's pitched.
Hey, if he's got a five-run lead after five innings, you can always modify the plan. But if you tell him beforehand that you're looking for only five good innings, maybe he can buck up just a bit and add a little giddy-up to that fastball.
Or maybe Sanchez is just hurt, and there just isn't any more giddy-up available.