Giants

Rewind: Bochy chooses Casilla, gets booed as game unravels

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Rewind: Bochy chooses Casilla, gets booed as game unravels

SAN FRANCISCO — Santiago Casilla has had a nightmare season, but it took a new and ugly turn Saturday night. As manager Bruce Bochy walked out to the mound to replace Sergio Romo with Casilla, the crowd at AT&T Park started booing. It increased after a seeing-eye single up the middle tied the game, and again when Casilla walked off the mound after his ninth blown save of the season. 

It’s rare that a Giant gets booed at AT&T Park — the only other recent time was good-natured booing when Bochy tried to pull his own son in the ninth inning — but Casilla said he understands the frustration. 

“I’m doing my best,” he said. “I’ve never had that moment before (where I’m getting booed). I had it now. I’m working to pitch better. It’s a game and you keep working and you put it in the past. I feel bad because I’ve never had that moment before. I tried to do my best.”

[PAVLOVIC: Instant Replay: Giants bullpen coughs up game to Cardinals]

The Giants have never questioned Casilla’s commitment. He is known as one of the hardest workers in the clubhouse, but it’s just not working this year. It appeared he had permanently lost a ninth-inning role last week, but now it’s got to be a certainty. 

After a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, Bochy said he thought this was the right matchup, and he pointed out that alternatives haven’t worked since Casilla lost the closer tag. But ... there’s one the Giants haven’t tried (in large part because of an injury), and Derek Law is long overdue for a shot at the ninth. 

Bochy made a different call tonight and he knew he was going to take heat for it if it played out poorly. It did during a messy inning that included Romo laughing in an apparent sign of disrespect as his manager took the ball away. A few minutes later the Giants had their 28th blown save, matching their franchise record. This one came on a night when Jeff Samardzija was dominant and Brandon Crawford showed every bit of his Gold Glove form. 

The Giants have blown two saves this month in part because of shallow fly balls to left and Crawford wasn’t going to let that happen again. He went deep into the outfield for the first out of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. The Giants dropped five games behind the Dodgers. They were two outs away from a four-game lead over the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. Instead, they’re now tied with the Mets and they’re just two up on St. Louis. 

It was a crushing night at the ballpark. There’s no getting around it. 

Instead of highlights and lowlights or some form of a game story, here’s how Bochy explained the decision making in the ninth: 

Question: Why did Casilla come in for Romo?
Bruce Bochy: “We huddled up and said if it got to Molina there — he’s had success off of Romo (4-for-9 with a HR) and Casilla would be a better matchup. That’s kind of what the plan was. It didn’t work out. If the ground ball is a foot to the left we wouldn’t be talking about it. He ended up walking him, that’s what hurt. We went with what we thought was the better matchup, or I thought. That’s a tough one. Samardzija threw great and we played well. It’s just tough luck there on that ground ball and once he hit it I thought it was a double play. It just got through.”

Q: Did the single off Romo play into it?
BB: “For some reason Molina has seen the ball pretty well off of Sergio. You go with the history and that’s why the change was made there. (Casilla) got ahead 1-2, he was just a little slow to home plate with the stolen base there and then he ended up walking him. That’s what hurt.”

Q: Strickland started warming up when Casilla ran into trouble. Why did Casilla come in before him? 
BB: “(Casilla) has closed over 30 games and he threw the ball well last night. We had Strick once Casilla went into the game to give us some coverage there. We’ve tried some different things and it hasn’t quite worked out. We’re going with what we think is our best matchup and it didn’t play out tonight. Sure that hurts, but like I said, it’s all hands on deck and we’re going with what we think is our best matchup there.”

Q: Did you consider using Law in the ninth after he got two outs in the eighth?
BB
: “Yeah. He just hasn’t been out there a lot. Sure it’s a consideration. He didn’t get a chance to throw a lot and go a couple innings. But I was fine with Sergio and then like I said, the plan was he would start the inning and if somebody got on, Casilla would have Molina there. It didn’t play out.”

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO — In the 19 hours since Bruce Bochy first tweeted* he has picked up 15,000 followers. 

“Is that a lot?” he asked Wednesday morning.

It is, but don't expect many tweets from the 63-year-old manager now also known as @BruceBochy1 (@BruceBochy was taken). Bochy does not plan to send out lineups or respond to your complaint about Buster Posey getting a game off the day after a night game. He will not answer you if you scream about Gorkys Hernandez being in center. He does not plan to join the #BeltWars. 

“I’m not going to be on it a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m going to use it with charities and things like that. I don’t plan to use it every day.”

(*It’s here that we should stop and note that Bochy’s first tweet was sent when the Giants were taking batting practice Tuesday and the manager was standing behind the cage watching. But let’s have fun with it.)

Bochy tweeted “great win tonight” after the Giants beat the Nationals on Tuesday and he promoted an event he is doing with our own Amy Gutierrez at the New Balance store after Wednesday’s game. You can expect similar when he does one of the many charity events that he participates in during off days and before occasional home games. 

Bochy smiled Wednesday when told that close friend Tim Flannery gave him two weeks before he deletes his account. 

“If (followers) tweet bad things I’m going to tweet back ‘love harder,’” he said, referencing Flannery’s own charity work. 

--- Mac Williamson was a late scratch from the lineup a day after a brutal collision with the wall alongside the home bullpen. Bochy said Williamson had “general soreness” and he was officially pulled with neck stiffness. The Giants have not had any recent discussions about moving the bullpen mounds, in part because there's no space left at the ballpark. Although Bochy noted that some of his hitters would gladly tell the team to put it in Triples Alley. 

--- Chris Stratton is back home in Mississippi for the birth of his second child. His wife, Martha Kate, has gone into labor. Stratton is expected back in time to start Saturday’s day game, with Johnny Cueto getting the night game against the Dodgers. 

Roberto Gomez was called up to take Stratton’s spot, since Stratton was put on the paternity list. Gomez likely will stay Saturday as the 26th man for the doubleheader. 

Down on the Farm: Steven Duggar finds his stride in Sacramento, but where does he fit?

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AP

Down on the Farm: Steven Duggar finds his stride in Sacramento, but where does he fit?

Bruce Bochy compared him to Steve Finley in spring training. Talks of future Gold Glove awards were heard all around the desert. He even hit a dinger against the Dodgers. 

Steven Duggar grabbed the spotlight in Scottsdale and he's starting to in Sacramento, too. 

The Giants prospect ranked No. 3 by MLB Pipeline and No. 6 by Baseball America turned heads in spring training with his glove in center field and his improvements at the plate, showcasing more power as well. The Giants took a long look at Duggar for the Opening Day roster, but wanted to get him consistent at-bats in Triple-A after an injury plagued season in 2017. 

After a slow start at the plate, Duggar is heating up for the River Cats. On Monday, he snapped a seven-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3 showing. Over those seven games, Duggar hit .379 (11-for-29) with four doubles. 

So, where does he fit with the Giants? It's not easy to find the answer. 

The Giants already have a situation on their hands when Hunter Pence returns from the DL as Mac Williamson has crushed the ball since his call-up and is the clear answer over the beloved veteran right now. Williamson was an easy call with his previous big league experience plus his dominant numbers in Sacramento with his new swing. Finding a spot for Duggar won't nearly be as easy. 

None of the team's outfielders except for Williamson have minor-league rosters. Losing Gregor Blanco or Gorkys Hernandez through waivers would be a tough pill to swallow for the front office. Bochy loves his veterans and both Blanco and Hernandez can play all three positions in the outfield. 

Then there's Austin Jackson, whose start to his San Francisco career sure hasn't gone as planned. Heading into Wednesday's game, Jackson is only slashing .211/.258/.228. He is still hitting left-handers better than right-handers, but better is just .227 vs. .154. 

Jackson is signed for two years at $3 million annually. He's here to stay, though the plan was always for him to eventually turn into more of a fourth outfielder. As he has dealt with lingering leg issues, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the DL soon. 

If Jackson does hit the DL, would it be for the return of Pence or the debut of Duggar? It's becoming more clear Duggar is inching closer to big-league ready. He is now slashing .283/.377/.367 with five doubles and his defense will make an immediate impact. 

When and how Duggar finds himself at AT&T Park could be the Giants' next big question.