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July 6, 2013
Bochy explains batting order mishap; Giants' All-Stars react

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's a strange day when the Giants play the Dodgers at AT&T Park and the biggest villain in the building is -- a piece of machinery in the home clubhouse. But here it is, the culprit behind the batting order snafu that led to Buster Posey's RBI double in the first inning being taken off the board.

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It didn't end up costing the Giants in a 4-2 win over the Dodgers, thanks in large part to a desperately needed pitching performance from Madison Bumgarner, who struck out nine over seven innings and drove in two runs himself. But it was by far the oddest scene of the day, and a topic of much discussion after the game.

Here's what happened: With one out in the bottom of the first, Posey doubled to drive in Gregor Blanco, who had led off with a double and gone to third on Marco Scutaro's bunt. After the play, Dodgers manager Don Matingly came out of the dugout holding his lineup card and talked with the umpires, who huddled and then came away signaling an out and motioning Blanco back to third base.

The Giants, it was ruled, had batted out of order. On the lineup cards given to the umpires and Dodgers, Pablo Sandoval was third and Posey fourth. That was how Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted it, and Bochy later said that was how it showed up on his card in the Giants dugout, too.

The problem: The Giants just installed a new electronic system in their clubhouse where they type in the lineup, which then gets displayed on a board in the clubhouse and used for the printouts handed out in the press box and on the scoreboard in center field.

Apparently, Bochy said, the lineup was typed into the system Saturday with Posey third and Sandoval fourth. So when players checked the lineup in the clubhouse and when it was displayed on the scoreboard during the game, that's what they saw. Posey checked both places and had no reason to think he wasn't batting third.

"It was a perfect storm for that to happen," Bochy said.

Bochy said that he actually turned to bench coach Ron Wotus when Posey walked up to the plate and remarked that he'd wanted to have Sandoval hitting third. But he too saw Posey third on the scoreboard in center and didn't think to look at his own lineup card, figuring he'd just written in Posey-Sandoval by mistake. It had already been a busy day for Bochy, who needed to turn in his All-Star roster by Saturday morning.

"I looked up and thought I was losing it," Bochy said. "Once he got a hit I looked (at the card in the dugout) and said, we just hit out of order."

Bochy said he was hoping the Dodgers wouldn't notice. It quickly became clear that they had. Because Sandoval-Posey was the correct order, Sandoval was ruled out standing in the on-deck circle and Posey was sent back up to hit again. He flew out.

"That was a first for me at any point in baseball," Posey said. "You're trying to keep your focus as much as possible, knowing there's still an opportunity to drive in a run. ... But we're such creatures of habit."

Bochy said he felt "horrible. It cost Buster a double, RBI, we've been struggling scoring runs. There's not a worse feeling.

"At that point you're just going, 'What is going on?' We've had a lot of things happen and now that. ... At that point you're just hoping it wasn't the game."

It wasn't. The Giants scored three runs the following inning, and that was enough to back Bumgarner. As for how the lineup was typed in wrong? Bochy wouldn't say who does the actual typing. But he said "the buck stops here," shouldering responsibility for not double-checking his own lineup card when he first saw Posey heading for the plate.

"That was a huge game for us, because I would've felt horrible for the club if that would have played a part in us not winning the game," Bochy said. "So it does soften the blow."

* That was only the beginning of an eventful day at AT&T Park, which included three Giants being named to the All-Star team. Posey received his second selection, finishing second behind fan-selected starter Yadier Molina in player voting, while Bumgarner and Scutaro both were named to the team for the first time.

It's a cool honor for Scutaro, who is 37 years old and has played parts of 12 major-league seasons. Scutaro was one of the nine players selected to the team by Bochy (Bumgarner was another), and Bochy said the second baseman was "very appreciative" when told of his selection.

"I've spent 10 years in the big leagues and never been there," Scutaro said. "I feel like I'm kind of at the end of my career, and to get to live the experience is special."

Scutaro is hitting .311 on the season and his power and RBI numbers don't exactly jump off the page. But he has played through several injuries in the first half of the season, and Bochy acknowledged Scutaro's contributions to the Giants during their World Series run in 2012 played a factor as well. One perk of being the All-Star game manager: You get a chance to reward the players who helped get you to the Series in the first place.

"We don't win the World Series without him," Bochy said. "So it plays a part in the fact that in the first half the following year, if he has a good year, to me that's a no-brainer. And he's had a good first half."

Bumgarner said Bochy actually told him of his selection on Friday, not wanting him to be thinking about it on the day of his start, and told him to keep it under wraps.

"I was definitely pretty excited and that was tough to walk around and not let anybody know about it," Bumgarner said. The left-hander said he managed not to tell teammates but made an exception for one person. "Told my wife," he said.

Bumgarner, now 9-5 with a 3.05 ERA after Saturday's win over the Dodgers, has been the Giants' most consistent rotation member in the first half, and Bochy said his ERA probably could be lower if not for a couple instances where Bochy left Bumgarner in a game a little longer than he maybe should have.

"You look at how consistent he's been and it's been impressive," Bochy said. "This is something I know he was so excited about. I know he really wanted to go bad. And I wasn't going to New York without him.

"I may take a hit on it, which I shouldn't because he's earned this."

Posey received the third-highest vote total among N.L. players but was beaten out for the start by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who led all N.L. vote-getters. Posey, who beat out Molina for the start last season, said going back is "a great honor."

* Bumgarner was asked whether he was more pleased with the All-Star nod or Saturday's outing and answered without hesitation: "The win, for sure."

"That's a huge honor to get the All-Star game, too," he said. "But we really needed a win today."

Did they ever. It was the Giants' second win in their last 12 games and sixth in their last 21. Four of those six wins have come in Bumgarner starts.

"He was really good," Posey said. "We needed a good performance. We hadn't been playing well, and for him to give us seven really strong innings was really great."

Bumgarner retired the first 14 hitters he faced and admitted the thought of "no-hitter" did cross his mind. After Andre Ethier's bloop single dashed those possibilities with two outs in the fifth, the thoughts turned to shutout. After Tim Federowicz homered two pitches later, it became about preserving what had become a two-run lead.

That much Bumgarner was able to do. He allowed just one more hit -- Hanley Ramirez's triple in the seventh. Ramirez was then thrown out trying to score on Juan Uribe's sharp one-hopper, thanks to a nice play by Pablo Sandoval. Bumgarner sent an emphatic point Sandoval's way after the play.

"Big win," Scutaro said. "Bumgarner, he was dealing. He went out there and threw the ball really well, and that was big for us."

Among the most impressive aspects of the outing: After allowing an opposite-field home run to Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig the first time they faced each other last month in Los Angeles, Bumgarner struck Puig out swinging three times Saturday. Puig also went down swinging in the ninth against Sergio Romo for his first career four-strikeout game.

Bumgarner said he "was making pitches to (Puig) and stuck with the game plan. I was fortunate enough to have a lead, and you can kind of go after guys a little more."

What was the game plan against Puig, who came in hitting .420?

"I ain't gonna tell you that," Bumgarner said.

* Posey's nullified double aside, the Giants finally took advantage of a couple chances with runners in scoring position, though their final line in those situations was 1-for-10. That's because two of the run-producing at-bats, both of which belonged to Bumgarner, were not official -- a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

The lone hit belonged to Gregor Blanco, who beat out an infield single with the bases loaded in the second inning. Blanco, who entered the game on an 0-for-25 skid, had three hits, including two doubles, and reached base all four times up.

"That can get contagious," Bochy said.

The Giants certainly hope so. Blanco was filling in so neatly in the leadoff spot for a while that it really softened the blow of losing Angel Pagan, an absence that has seemed far more acute with the Giants struggling to score runs lately. If Blanco can get going again, it could go a long way toward jump-starting the offense. He may be out of the lineup altogether tomorrow, though -- the Giants are facing a left-hander in nemesis Clayton Kershaw.

* A last All Star-related note: Bochy was asked about some of the more difficult players to leave off the N.L. roster and cited several, including the Reds' Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo, pitchers from the Cardinals and Pirates and Rockies closer Rex Brothers. One name he did not mention: Puig, whose candidacy was probably the most hotly debated over his month in the big leagues.

Puig is one of the candidates for the final spot, which is voted on over the next several days by fans. Asked point-blank if Puig was seriously considered as a reserve, Bochy was candid.

"To be honest, no," he said. "I knew I was going to put him on the (fan) vote. I couldn't leave a guy like (Brewers outfielder Carlos) Gomez off and the other guys who are on the club, have had a tremendous half.

"(Puig has) done a tremendous job since he's been up here and created a lot of interest throughout baseball in what he's accomplished. This gives him a chance to get voted on the club if the public thinks they want to see him there."

* The Giants send Chad Gaudin to the mound tomorrow to face Kershaw, with a corresponding roster move for Gaudin still to be announced. Expect that tomorrow morning, which isn't so very far away.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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