07/13/11 2:00 AM ET
As in Series, Bochy makes all the right moves
Giants skipper knows importance of home-field in Fall Classic
By Hal Bodley / MLB.com
The San Francisco Giants skipper used it last year to win the World Series and Tuesday night, he rolled it out again to the delight of a sellout crowd at Chase Field.
Superb pitching, just enough timely hitting and bearded Brian Wilson to seal the deal is all it takes. It worked in the World Series against Texas and it clicked again in the 82nd All-Star Game.
Bochy should bottle it.
The National League stung the American League, 5-1, and thanks to its victory, gets home-field advantage in the World Series for the second straight year.
"Getting those first two World Series games in front of your home fans is so important," said Wilson, who saved Tuesday night's game as he did the deciding Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.
Don't blame Rangers manager Ron Washington, who handled the AL team, if he's getting a little gun-shy in these matches.
"The bottom line is the NL pitching was outstanding," sighed Washington. "You know, we ended up giving up one big inning, and they didn't give up any."
Bochy set the tone for the night when he sent the Phillies' Roy Halladay, 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner, to start the Midsummer Classic. Doc Halladay stymied the AL over two innings on just 19 pitches. Teammate Cliff Lee followed, worked a perfect third and had two out in the fourth before Boston's Adrian Gonzalez homered to right field.
The AL lead was short-lived.
Milwaukee's Prince Fielder sent a C. J. Wilson cutter screaming over the wall in left-center, a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth that put the NL up for good, 3-1.
Halladay and Lee became the first duo to start an All-Star Game with three perfect innings since 2001, when Roger Clemens and Freddy Garcia did it in Seattle.
Bochy made three mid-inning pitching changes and in each instance, a would-be AL rally was snuffed. He has that Midas touch.
The NL was up, 5-1, in the ninth, but this should tell you something about how Bochy operates:
Pirates reliever Joel Hanrahan struck out the Rangers' Michael Young to start the ninth, but a Starlin Castro error and a single by Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce and another error put runners on second and third.
Bochy called on Wilson, who quickly got the last two outs and the sellout crowd of 47,994 headed for the exits and into the steamy Phoenix night.
"I said earlier that Brian would be the closer," said Bochy. "We made an error and [gave up] a base hit, so now we're in a closing situation. I was glad to get the game over, to be honest, because they had some good bats coming up."
Admittedly, Bochy had a perfect cast to work with, but he set up his pitchers with a master's touch.
"It was great to have the pitching set up the way it was," he said. "We had three starters and felt like we were covered there early. And then in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth, we thought we had the relievers that would help us."
Bochy's pregame message, though, was how important winning the All-Star Game is. For the National League.
"I mentioned that to the players. Starting the World Series at home is nice. So, that was part of the message, how important it was for us, and how important the game was. Do it again for the National League champion. The guys did it. We played well, pitched well and had some big hits."
There was an aggressive side to the NL the AL lacked.
In the fifth, Castro, pinch-running for the Rockies" Troy Tulowitzki, stole two bases before being thrown at home on an infield out. But in the same inning, Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks stole second and raced home with the NL's fourth run on a single by Andre Ethier of the Dodgers.
"He [Weeks] can beat you with the long ball, he can beat you with speed," said Bochy. "These types of players are special."
Fielder, the All-Star Game MVP, said "if we're fortunate enough to get into the World Series, I think that [home-field advantage] would help us a ton. So, winning tonight is awesome. We won the MVP and we get to have home-field advantage, so it was pretty cool."
The Giants, of course, had home-field advantage last year and won the World Series. In 2009, the Yankees held the advantage and won the championship in six games over the Phillies.
So now the NL pennant winner will have that advantage and should thank these All-Stars for their help.
Not to mention Bruce Bochy's formula for winning important games.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.