NLDS Notes: Fired-up bullpen comes up huge in Giants' Game 3 win

NLDS Notes: Fired-up bullpen comes up huge in Giants' Game 3 win

SAN FRANCISCO — Derek Law isn’t sure what got into him when he ended the sixth inning with a strikeout of Dexter Fowler. He bolted off the mound and pumped his fist and screamed his way back to the dugout, adrenaline carrying him through one of the biggest moments of his life. 

The feeling didn’t wear off after another scoreless inning of work, and when Law looked around a thundering stadium in the eighth, he wanted another piece of the action. 

“I was talking to Steven (Okert) and I was like, man, these people all have these rally towels up. I wish I had a towel,” Law said. “I turned and this kid holds one up. I was like, Ohhhh man …”

Law spent the rest of his night as the most visible holder of an orange towel handed out to 40,000 fans. A Pittsburgh native, he has a couple of yellow “terrible towels” in his room back home. He knew what to do once the young man threw him an orange version, waving and whipping and trying to will the Giants to victory.

“I was just trying to rally the troops together,” he said. “I just kind of used it as good juju.”

Law’s work on the mound was just as positive. He pitched two hitless innings in relief of Madison Bumgarner, who had his shortest postseason start since the 2012 NLCS. Hunter Strickland struck out two in the eighth. Will Smith breezed through an extra inning, extending his scoreless streak to 19 consecutive games. Ty Blach pitched two shutout frames, earning his first postseason win. 

Sergio Romo was in the middle of it all, and before Blach ran into trouble in the 13th, he was the only reliever to give up a hit. It was a big one, a two-run shot from Kris Bryant on a hanging slider. 

“I was surprised it went out,” Romo said. “I didn’t think at the time that he hit it as well as he did. You can’t take anything away from the guy. He’s really strong, apparently.”

Romo showed some strength of his own, getting through the rest of that inning and pitching a perfect 10th. 

“What a great job he did to bounce back and keep the score tied there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We needed some length out of him. And then Blach, he just had a day off, I think, after going an inning and a third, and he goes out there and makes pitches when he had to. That’s what it usually comes down to at this stage. The bullpen has got to come through for you, and those guys did tonight.”

The contributions didn’t all come on the field. George Kontos stood on the bullpen mound from basically the second through the fifth, providing a safety blanket as Bumgarner tried to provide length following Jake Arrieta’s homer. Kontos estimated he threw 75-80 warm-up pitches on a cool night, but those were bullets saved by others like Law and Blach. Kontos warmed up again in the 13th as Blach ran into trouble.

“It’s good to show what we’re made of,” he said of a bullpen that was a target all season long. “After Bum gave up the homer, it seemed the air escaped out of the stadium. For him to go out there and get out of that, and get outs from the guys behind him, Will and Ty Blach, who has what, 30 days in the big leagues, it shows what this group is made of.”

Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik made sure it didn’t go to waste, teaming up on the winning run in the 13th. Law ran out for the dog pile and got right in the middle, holding his right hand up and waving the orange towel as the ballpark shook.

Law didn’t realize at the time what an impact the “rally towel” had made on the broadcast and social media. In fact, he didn’t even hold onto it. He signed it after the game and handed it back to the fan behind the dugout. 

“Hopefully he comes back tomorrow,” Law said smiling. 

--- Angel Pagan was scratched about 30 minutes before the game with back spasms. Pagan said his back flared up Saturday in Chicago and he came in at 1 p.m. Monday to get treatment. He never got to the point where he could play.

“He was not available,” Bochy said after the game. 

Pagan said he’s day to day, and he’s unsure if he can play in Game 4. If the Giants replace him on the roster, Pagan won’t be available for a potential NLCS. A free agent after the season, Pagan has possibly played his last game for the Giants. 

--- Crawford took a throw off the left elbow and Bochy said there’s a pretty good contusion there. Crawford’s arm was numb for a while, but he’s expected to be fine tomorrow. 

--- Conor Gillaspie went back and looked at the replay of the call that was not overturned. Like you, he doesn’t understand how he was ruled out at first. Replay has helped the game, but there’s a long way to go. It would help if Major League Baseball put out statements of some sort during postseason games. Fans should know what they saw or didn’t see back in New York. 

--- Here is my game story from the 6-5 win.

--- Players usually have a couple hundred text messages waiting after big walk-offs, but Panik only had about 25. “It was like 3 a.m. back home,” he said, smiling. “Mom, dad, brother, they all have work tomorrow.”

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”

Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too


Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too

Will Clark won his first and only Gold Glove at first base for the Giants at age 27 in 1991. It was Clark's sixth year in the major leagues. 

Steven Duggar won't have to wait that long to win the biggest hardware for his defense in Clark's eyes. 

"He can play Gold Glove center field right now in the big leagues. He can flat out go get it in center field," Clark said on the Giants' prospect Tuesday on KNBR. "He can definitely, definitely play a Gold Glove center field." 

Clark, who now serves a role in the Giants' front office after playing in five straight All-Star Games for his former team from 1988-92, has watched Duggar closely for more than just this spring training. When asked about his feelings on the 24-year-old, Clark made them clear right away. 

"I've seen Steve parts of the last two seasons in the minor leagues and I am definitely a Steven Duggar fan," Clark said. 

The question with Duggar has always been his bat. He has elite speed, gets great jumps in center field and everyone from Bruce Bochy to Buster Posey has praised his ability to track down fly balls. 

"His thing is, how quick is he going to make the adjustment in the big leagues with the pitching. I know there's a lot of people that are asking that question right now," Clark. 

Count The Thrill as one of the leaders in Camp Duggar. He joined many others in complimenting his glove left and right. But what he has to say about the Clemson product's bat is what puts him over the top. 

"He's succeeded at each level he's been at," Clark pointed out. "He will do it at the major league level and I'm kind of staking my reputation on that."

This is confidence -- to say the least -- coming from someone who was a .303 lifetime hitter and bashed 284 home runs in 15 seasons. 

Over three years in the minor leagues, Duggar is a .292 career hitter with a .384 on-base percentage and .427 slugging percentage. Duggar started off scorching hot this spring with the Giants, but has cooled down with the Cactus League soon coming to a close. In 16 games, Duggar is slashing .250/.353/.545 and has shown more pop with four home runs.