Despite their team’s 7-6 win in a 12-inning game that lasted 5 hours and 23 minutes on Friday night, Giants fans were incredulous after manager Bruce Bochy’s head-scratching decision to leave reliever Santiago Casilla in the game to pitch to nemesis Jake Lamb in the 10th inning.
Casilla allowed a ninth-inning homer in a loss to the Rockies on Wednesday for his seventh blown save of the season, and Bochy said before Friday’s game that Casilla would no longer be his exclusive closer. Yet, with the Giants leading Arizona 6-5, Casilla started the 10th inning.
After Chris Owings grounded out in the Diamondbacks’ first at-bat of the inning, Lamb was up next as a pinch-hitter. Lamb has had remarkable success against Casilla, blasting three homers in seven at-bats against him over his career, including going 2-for-2 with two homers against him this season.
Make that 3-for-3 with three homers — and blown save No. 8 for Casilla — as Lamb went deep to tie the game.
Bochy said he wanted the right-handed Casilla to get past left-handed hitter Lamb so he could face the righties coming up in the Diamondbacks’ order.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman, “Bochy could have gone to Joe Nathan, but Friday night's sequence shows that Bochy still is not ready to trust the 41-year-old to close.”
Bochy said of Casilla, "He's been here. He has 31 saves. Joe had two outings. We had our guy out there. He got a nice out there (the Owings grounder). He made some nice pitches to the first hitter. He's just got to stay away from the long ball."
But, Bochy said, he’s really learned his lesson this time.
Still, the Giants went on for the victory, with Nathan picking up the win via a scoreless 11th inning, despite allowing a leadoff single by Brandon Drury, who got to second on a wild pitch and to third on a fly ball.
To add to Friday’s bizarreness, Cory Gearrin earned the save after becoming the first Giants player to start an inning on the mound, move to a different defensive position (outfield) and return to the mound.