Did Bochy’s slow hook cost him Game 3?

There’s a principle of psychology, the name of which I can’t recall, but which essentially says that we tend to interpret new information in a way that merely reinforces our old beliefs and prejudices.

Which might at least begin to explain how I completely missed Bruce Bochy’s big flub in Friday night’s Game 3. Sure, I critiqued Ned Yost’s performance from pillar to post. But in the exact same game, Bochy made a mistake that might have cost him the game. And I missed it.

Fortunately, I’m smart enough to read Joe Sheehan’s newsletters. And Joe, after writing the same sorts of things about Yost that I wrote, also wrote this:

Then again, Yost has been the best manager in this World Series. Bruce Bochy, who has won two World Series in part by being aggressive with his bullpen, left in his starting pitcher too long for the second straight game, and for the second straight game it may have cost him a win. Everything I wrote about letting Jake Peavy start the sixth inning of Game Two applies to letting Tim Hudson start the sixth inning of Game Three. Like Peavy, Hudson was getting outcomes — 11 straight batters retired — that didn’t pair up with how well he was pitching or the stuff he had. Like Peavy, Hudson gets his ass kicked the third time around the order — jumping from a .259/.368 BA/SLG the first two times through to .303/.495 the third. Heck, as there had been on Wednesday night with Peavy, there was even an argument for letting Hudson face the first batter of the sixth inning, in this case, Guthrie. 

And just as happened Wednesday, Bochy was left unprepared for his starting pitcher to give up baserunners. After Guthrie tapped to second, Alcides Escobar singled to center; it was only then that Bochy got Lopez up in the bullpen. It was already too late. Alex Gordon crushed a double to center that easily scored Escobar; he would later score the decisive third run. There’s just reason to not have Lopez up as the inning begins, no reason to not have him ready not just for Hosmer and Moustakas, but for Gordon as well. The LRLL sequence is made for Lopez, even if it may mean pitching around Lorenzo Cain as the situation warrants.

Exactly. And as I also wrote before Game 3, stacking Hosmer and Moustakas made Bochy’s job easier. Or should have, anyway. Now, as Joe points out, none of this looks as bad if Hosmer doesn’t have a tremendous at-bat against Lopez. But the odds were long against both Gordon and Hosmer hitting the ball hard against Lopez. A third at-bat for Gordon against Hudson, though? That’s just not something that needs to happen in October, with a fully rested bullpen.

Finally, my compliments to Joe. Before the World Series, he gave a big edge to Bochy in the managing department. So I appreciate his flexibility of intellect here, and his willingness to admit that he was wrong. So far, anyway.