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Kapler explains how 'next man up' can be stressful for Giants

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Gabe Kapler

When the Giants pulled away from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle innings Monday night, they kept one of their most impressive trends going. They have not lost consecutive games since May 21-23 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is a great way to make sure you stay in the playoff race or atop your division.

The Giants have been remarkably resilient, bouncing back from every bad performance, whether it was on the pitching or hitting side. They're 19-6 after losses this season, the best mark in the National League, and they've been able to put that together in large part because of their depth. 

Gabe Kapler's club has taken on a "next man up" mentality, with fill-ins for injured players coming up with some of the most impactful plays of the season. LaMonte Wade Jr., Steven Duggar, Jason Vosler, Mike Tauchman and Chadwick Tromp are among the position players who have contributed when someone went down, and the rotation has benefited greatly from Logan Webb's ability to step in early on. Sammy Long, who is expected to pitch most of Tuesday's game, looks like the latest find.

The mentality is something Kapler is extremely proud of, but it's not the easiest way for the coaching staff to get through a season. 

"It's probably more stressful at first," Kapler said on Monday's "Giants Talk" podcast. "You have Evan Longoria go down and the first thing you do is not be like, 'oh, well it's next man up.' We're going to say that, and every time it's 'next man up, someone's got to step up' and that's true, but the first feeling is 'man, we just lost a really productive player.' 

 

"Look, our lineup is much different without Longoria against left-handed pitching. It's just not as deep, it's not as explosive. His at-bats were just sensational against lefties. So, it's tough. When we have a guy that goes down, I think there's the moment of stress."

The Giants certainly look less dangerous without Longoria in the heart of their lineup, and Kapler would also love to be able to pencil Darin Ruf, Alex Dickerson and Tommy La Stella in. He probably would sleep a little better if Webb and Aaron Sanchez were healthy rotation options. 

Some of the injured contributors are on the way back, but there will be other injuries to work around. The Giants will continue to use their newfound depth, hoping to avoid the kind of losing stretches that have caused their two chief competitors to fall back in the standings. 

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The Dodgers lost 14 of 18 early in the season, a run that's glaring as they continue to look up at the Giants. Despite a recent hot stretch, they're a game back. The Padres have lost 11 of their last 15 games, falling four games back in the NL West. The Giants had an early 2-4 road trip and that sweep against the Dodgers, but other than that they've avoided anything resembling a down week. 

"We are pretty good at turning the page when it's time to turn the page," Kapler said. "I think we all give ourselves a little bit of time to pout and to be upset and that can't last very long, because we've got a game the next day. Once we kind of focus on today's (game) it's less about what happened last night, and that includes injuries and guys filling in."

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