SAN FRANCISCO -- After the Giants took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning Sunday, Bruce Bochy turned to three relievers.
The former All-Star who got the third-biggest contract ever handed out to a reliever.
The versatile lefty who cost the Giants a top prospect at the deadline two years ago.
The young right-hander with a 98 mph fastball and 1.38 ERA.
This sounds like the norm, but for the Giants, it was technically -- with apologies to these three -- the B Team. Hunter Strickland, the closer, and Tony Watson, the setup man, were in need of a day off. Bochy also did not use Sam Dyson, who has pitched a lot recently and worked his way back into some eighth innings. But he still had plenty in reserve.
Mark Melancon made his season debut and struck out the side. Will Smith pitched the eighth and worked around some traffic for a scoreless frame. Reyes Moronta needed just seven pitches to put the finishing touches on a 6-1 win over the Phillies.
Yes, that was technically the second level of depth for the bullpen. But if Melancon is your sixth-inning guy, Smith is your second lefty, and Moronta is your fourth right-handed reliever on the depth chart ... well, you might have a pretty damn good bullpen.
"We've talked about how nice a job the back end of the bullpen has done," catcher Buster Posey said. "You have Smith and Melancon back, it could be pretty formidable now."
After two years of Death By Bullpen, the Giants are back to their old ways. Those six form a very good group, one that should be finalized on Tuesday when Madison Bumgarner returns. The Giants will likely have to pick two of Ty Blach, Cory Gearrin and Pierce Johnson, and again, that shows their newfound depth. Blach started on opening day and now could be an overqualified long reliever. Gearrin is at his best when he's a right-handed specialist and Bochy can now use him that way. Johnson has struggled recently, but he's more talented than many of the pitchers who have sat in the bullpen the last couple of years.
The key going forward could be Melancon. Bochy spoke to him and told him he would not return as the closer, or even the next man up. He'll pitch in the sixth and seventh for now. His return from a pronator injection was as good as you could hope. Melancon was only 89-91 mph with his cutter but his curve was a wipeout pitch. He threw it three times and finished off three strikeouts.
"It's been a long time," he said. "It was a really good feeling to be back and be able to help these guys out. It was fun. It was a lot of fun."
--- Posey felt Hector Neris, the Philadelphia closer, hit him on purpose last year. He said so publicly, and a day later, Bochy called Neris an idiot. It's rare the Giants go that far.
Neris pitched the eighth on Sunday and Posey was due up third. The first two fastballs were far inside. Posey appeared to stare into the visiting dugout after the second one. Then he hit a solo homer to left.
Posey took the high road, both around the bases and later. He didn't stare back at the mound at all.
"Just trying to go about the at-bat and fortunately it turned in my favor," he said when asked about it in the clubhouse.
--- Andrew McCutchen had the big blow Sunday, a three-run homer in the sixth. It was his first in 159 plate appearances, the longest homer-less streak of his career.