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Gott's latest blown lead will force Kapler to make changes

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Mike Yastrzemski turned and sprinted, but he ran out of space. He could do nothing but look up as he reached the wall, watching helplessly as Tommy La Stella's walk-off homer smacked off an electronic scoreboard advertising a produce section at Angel Stadium.

Yastrzemski spun and yelled one word, starting with an f, that was heard throughout an empty ballpark and over the airwaves. But it was another f word that was the key one Monday night. 

After Trevor Gott blew a five-run lead on Friday, manager Gabe Kapler said he still had faith in the right-hander. A day later he sent Gott back out with a three-run lead, and when he gave up four runs, Kapler again showed faith. 

"I still believe in Trevor Gott," Kapler said Saturday. 

That much was clear Monday, but it was also clear the Giants would have been better off backing off for at least a few games. Gott was called on again to protect a lead. He gave up a two-run shot as the Giants lost 7-6 to the Angels. 

It was the third body blow in four days for the closer, and this one will lead to some changes. 

"We'll look for a softer landing spot to try and build some confidence for him, and we'll examine what other options we have to take down high-leverage moments for the time being," Kapler said. "I'll certainly talk to Trevor Gott about that and look forward to building him back up. I have a lot of confidence in the long-term prospects for Trevor Gott. He's had success at this level, he's got great stuff, we just have to build that confidence back up for him."

 

If the Giants felt the need to do that after the A's series, they were given a perfect opportunity. An opportunistic offense -- led by Brandon Belt and Yastrzemski on this night -- handed another lead to the bullpen after six innings. Kapler had it all laid out in front of him, and he chose to go with Tyler Rogers in the seventh and Tony Watson in the eighth. The latter decision was the one that raised eyebrows. 

Watson has had the most success of Kapler's late-game arms, and he has been a closer before. He's also left-handed, and the new staff talks religiously about finding "pockets" for their relievers. 

Yet there was Watson, facing three right-handers at the bottom of the order in the eighth -- getting them all out relatively quickly -- as two left-handers loomed in the ninth for Gott. 

"We weren't sure what they were going to do with (Shohei) Ohtani available (off the bench) but that's not the only thing there," Kapler said. "Watty has proven to be able to go through left and right. We want to continue to be consistent with our messaging, with our bullpen, that they're capable of taking righties and lefties down. We believed in Watty to handle that situation well and he did."

"We still felt like if Watty was able to go have a quick, efficient inning like he did, that we had a spot in the lineup that we felt confident in Trevor handling. He didn't face Trout, right? The goal was to keep him in the situation that we felt strongly that he could handle."

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It's true that Gott didn't face Mike Trout, but that's only because the game ended with the world's best player -- who had homered once already -- in the on-deck circle. With Trout a few feet away, La Stella drove a low curveball from Gott out to right, putting runs 10 and 11 on the right-hander's line over the last three appearances. 

"Obviously Trevor is having a really rough time," Kapler said. "Nobody feels worse about this than he does."