When the Giants take the field, the only thing more concerning than a big deficit seems to be a big lead.
Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubón each hit home runs while starter Logan Webb tossed six shutout innings, but the Giants still played a nail-biter and needed to use their best reliever, Tyler Rogers, to close out a too-close-for-comfort 6-3 win over the Reds.
A Giants club that’s lost four games it has led after six innings and is 0-6 in games that have been tied after seven dealt with more bullpen issues on Monday as lefty Jarlín García gave up a run in the seventh before righty Matt Wisler surrendered back-to-back home runs to Tyler Naquin and Eugenio Suárez in the eighth.
Flores and Yastrzemski each helped the Giants chase Reds starter Sonny Gray from the game after five innings before Dubón hit a solo home run to push San Francisco ahead 5-0 in the sixth. The lead appeared safe enough for manager Gabe Kapler to use some of his struggling relievers in lower-leverage situations, but Cincinnati put a scare in the first-place Giants with an eighth-inning rally that threatened to ruin a night that began with an excellent outing from Webb.
“I thought Logan had a good outing,” Kapler said. “I thought he attacked the strike zone and had a couple of counts get away from him. He’s had some misses that he’d like to control more, but I really did think he showed the initiative to attack the strike zone more in this outing than in the last and I think it paid off for him.”
Kapler’s initial decision to go to the bullpen to open the seventh came as a mild surprise as Webb had only thrown 86 pitches and had recorded eight groundball outs, but the manager said his starter was experiencing shoulder soreness and the Giants wanted Webb to receive treatment from the training staff.
“I don’t feel like it’s anything serious at this point,” Kapler said. “Obviously things can change, but it’s something that’s enough for me to say I didn’t want him to go back out there and put himself at risk.”
After posting four consecutive scoreless outings and appearing to fix a mechanical flaw, Wisler hung a pair of sliders to Naquin and Suárez and watched his ERA soar back to 7.20 on the season. The Giants signed him to a one-year deal after he finished the 2020 season with a 1.07 ERA with the Twins, but Kapler has been unable to count on him in the late innings after he gave up three earned runs without recording an out in an Opening Night meltdown in Seattle.
Lefty Caleb Baragar recorded the final out of the eighth inning after walking the first batter he faced, but the Giants needed to use Rogers for the 24th time in 41 games to shut the door.
Kapler has acknowledged the Giants would prefer to give Rogers more rest between outings and find additional off days for their best late-inning option, but doing so will require other relievers to prove more trustworthy in high-leverage situations.
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Author: Kerry Crowley