That's how Giants manager Gabe Kapler described the state of his bullpen after an improbable 9-6 win in 11 innings over the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night at American Family Field.
"That's part of being in a long season," Kapler told reporters on a video conference call after the win. "It's nice that we have an off day coming up after tomorrow's game. The bullpen picked us up and came up big for the group, and now we have to come up big for the bullpen."
In what essentially was a bullpen game for the Giants, Kapler had to use every reliever he had at his disposal, even closer Jake McGee, who had been told earlier in the day he would not be used because he had pitched the previous two nights.
After Aaron Sanchez failed to record an out in the third inning, Kapler used Jay Jackson, Jose Alvarez, Zack Littell, Tony Watson, Dominic Leone, Tyler Rogers, Jarlin Garcia and McGee to get the final 27 outs of the game.
McGee wasn't the only one who had to pitch for a third consecutive day. Garcia, Rogers and Leone also had pitched in the last two games.
"That was the toughest performance of the year for our club," Kapler said. "I think our bullpen was selfless and embodied what we've talked about, which is being unselfish, understanding when the team's going after a big win, picking each other up, and they all did that. They all stepped up and took the ball in big moments.
"That's why we're here. That's why we're having this conversation, because we had essentially a bullpen game, and on their side, one of, if not their ace [Brandon Woodruff], their 1a pitcher out there, we were able to go toe-to-toe with him and get deep into the game and have a chance to win the game. I think our players smelled that opportunity, went after that, and we supported that."
In a memorable game for the Giants, Garcia had an inning he'd like to forget. Tasked with protecting a three-run lead after the offense erupted in the top of the 10th, Garcia immediately gave up a two-run homer to Luis Urias to cut San Francisco's lead to 5-4. Two batters later, Willy Adames crushed a game-tying homer.
"We know when pitchers are on their third day in a row it's going to be challenging for them and I think it requires a certain mentality to say, 'I know I'm on my third day in a row, but I'm going to give everything I have here,' " Kapler said. "With Jarlin, he made a couple mistakes, but I think we saw that Rogers was pretty sharp and Jake was great as well. Dom Leone was excellent. So clearly, guys can go back-to-back-to-back and perform well. So I think some of it may have been Jarlin's workload and another piece of maybe that's just how the inning would have worked out whether he was on his second day or first one."
The Giants' offense picked Garcia up by scoring four more runs in the top of the 11th. That's when Kapler turned to McGee, who didn't go through his normal pregame routine on a day he might pitch.
"Going into today, I was the only guy that was down today and I just got treatment and did all that," McGee told reporters after the game. "I didn't go through my stretches. I didn't have my brace down there or my cup or anything, so they had to run that out in extra innings. And then they were like 'If we score two runs, you're in the game.' So just kind of went with it."
McGee did give up a two-out RBI single to Lorenzo Cain that scored automatic runner Avisail Garcia. But the lefty was able to get Manny Piña to pop out to shortstop Brandon Crawford to end the crazy game.
Despite the early turnaround and 1 p.m. CT first pitch for the series finale on Sunday, Kapler said the team would have enough time to get an extra arm to Milwaukee in time for the game if needed.
But what Kapler and the bullpen really need is for Johnny Cueto to go six or seven innings Sunday. That would be the best way to pick up the relievers who gave everything they had Saturday night.