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Kapler reaches milestone in Giants' win over his former team

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Gabe Kapler exchanging lineup cards

As expected, the boos floated down from the seats at Citizens Bank Park late Monday night, but this time they weren't aimed at Giants manager Gabe Kapler. 

Kapler's new team completely stymied his old one, leaving Phillies fans booing the lackluster effort at the plate, which came against a shorthanded Giants pitching staff. Without their top two relievers, the Giants still managed to cruise through the late innings against a tough Phillies lineup, closing out a 2-0 win

The victory was the 200th of Kapler's career and came two days after he suffered his 200th loss. He's the first manager in MLB history to be exactly even through 400 career games, and afterward some coaches and players came into his office to have a celebratory drink.

Asked about reaching 200 wins, Kapler noted that it was especially meaningful that starter Kevin Gausman, who had to grind through six shutout innings, was in the room for the toast. 

"The players do most of the heavy lifting," Kapler said. 

This night, though, was about the manager.

The Phillies fired Kapler about 18 months ago, saddling him with the blame for two seasons that failed to meet lofty expectations. In particular, he was skewered for his management of their bullpen, and he has acknowledged over time that he learned a lot from some early mistakes. That made the way the Giants won this one particularly apropos. 

 

The Giants have had two go-to relievers through three weeks and both were unavailable Monday. Closer Jake McGee spent a second straight game on the IL because of side effects after a vaccination shot, and setup man Tyler Rogers was put behind glass after throwing an MLB-high 10 times in the first 15 games. 

Matt Wisler allowed seven earned runs in his first seven appearances this month, but Kapler turned to him for the heart of the lineup in the seventh and Wisler went 1-2-3. Camilo Doval made his MLB debut on Sunday and a day later was the setup man. He worked around a leadoff single to get the lead to the ninth, where Wandy Peralta, Kapler's third-most reliable reliever at the start of this season, picked up his second save. 

"We were going to try to piece it together with Wisler, Doval and Peralta in some order," Kapler said. "Given how Doval pitched in Miami we felt like there might be some good momentum there. It wasn't as crisp as in Miami, but again, these are really good Major League hitters and it's going to be a challenge every time out. I thought Wandy looked as good and as composed as I've seen him and Wisler had to go through the heart of their lineup and face Bryce (Harper). 

"That's not an easy thing to do considering he's facing a lefty and his number one weapon is a slider and sometimes sliders for strikes -- we know that with Harper, if you put sliders in the middle of the plate he can punish you. I thought it was a really good job by our bullpen, but I've been really proud of the bullpen work for most of the season."

The effort left the Phillies throwing bats at their feet as they jogged out of the box and their fans showing their frustration. Kapler had downplayed the significance of this game for a couple of days, but Phillies fans didn't let him forget all that had happened, booing him when he was shown on the video board before the game. After getting a win in his return, Kapler again tried to insist there were no extra emotions. 

"My feelings are I'm just kind of focused on doing a good job with the San Francisco Giants," Kapler said, "And that's genuinely how I feel."

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That's why you have a whole coaching staff and clubhouse behind you. The rest of the Giants weren't going to let this win go by without a toast, with a large group gathering a few minutes after the final out. 

"I just saw a big group going in there and there were some glasses held up, so I was like, 'What are we celebrating?'" Gausman said. "I had no idea but I'm happy that I got to be a part of it. Hopefully it's a big win for him, his first time coming back to Philly. It was a good way to kind of set the tone for this series."