The San Francisco Giants scored three runs in the first inning with a two-out rally, and that was all they needed to beat the Miami Marlins 3-0 Thursday night. Only seven total hits were recorded the entire game, five of them from the Giants (12-7).
LHP Daniel Castano allowed three runs off five hits in the first and that pretty much sums up the ball game. The real story of the night is Giants backup catcher Curt Casali making history after catching five straight shutouts, and he became the first catcher to ever do it with five different pitchers.
Gabe Kapler said Casali is doing a really nice job leading the pitching staff and the pitchers are responding well. He joked about his catching situation for tomorrow’s game:
“Was kinda joking on the bench that tomorrow is a tough decision between the best catcher in Giants history and the guy who is certain to catch a shutout. I have my work cut out for me. A lot of what Curt does is work with pitchers in a really thoughtful way. He sets them up for success by the way he positions himself behind the plate. I think he calls a great game and just developed a strong rapport with our pitching staff, luckily for us we have two catchers who do those things.”
Mike Yastrzemski had a two-out double to get the first inning started. Evan Longoria followed with a walk before Darin Ruf lined a LHP Daniel Castano slider 110 mph off the bat and it bounced over Marlins left fielder Corey Dickerson’s head to bring in the Giants first run. Casali singled to left field to clear the bases. When Dickerson bobbled the ball, two runs scored, and the Giants quickly led 3-0 after the first.
Casali had been struggling at the plate but drove in two of three Giants runs Thursday. He said when he finally earned his two-run RBI the weight was lifted off his shoulders:
“I have been working really hard to hone in on my timing, bat path and everything… just been a little bit of a slower start than I would have imagined. Just being able to do that my first at bat, get to first base, drive in a couple runs and it felt pretty good. Hopefully that will be a sign of good things to happen in the future.”
Castano (L, 0-1, 3.60 ERA) gave up a double to Austin Slater with two outs in the second inning and wasn’t touched again until Slater made his third plate appearance of the night in the fifth. Slater bunted with one out and landed on second when Castano overthrew Aguilar at first base for an error.
Slater was the only runner to get on base after the three-run first inning and he was left stranded in both the second and fifth. Castano threw 82 pitches in five innings where he allowed three runs off five hits. He struck out two and walked two batters.
The Giants struggled in Miami the last time they faced Castano, and Kapler said nothing was different this time:
“I don’t think there was a different approach, I think we were looking for pitches in the middle of the plate to drive against Castano when we were in Miami and doing the same thing today. Baseball is a funny sport like that, it doesn’t show up the same way twice.”
Aaron Sanchez gave up singles in the first and second innings but was perfect afterward. Sanchez (W, 1-1, 1.83 ERA) threw five scoreless innings and only allowed just the two hits and zero walks. He ended the night with 67 pitches and a pair of strikeouts.
Sanchez is coming off shoulder surgery and knows this season he will have his good days and bad days. Kapler is being careful with his pitch count. Sanchez was a savage when a reporter mentioned him feeling a little off Thursday night:
“I didn’t feel off at all, all day. Yeah, my velo was down but shit that’s been down. It’s about getting outs so I don’t really give a shit about how hard I am throwing.”
Gregory Santos made his MLB debut in the sixth after being called up Thursday from the alternate site when the Giants heard his velocity was topping 100 mph. He needed 16 pitches in his first perfect inning as a big leaguer where he struck out a pair, one looking, including his first batter in the majors, Magneuris Sierra.
Santos entered the game with history on the line. He entered the game with the pressure of knowing if he allowed only one run, Casali’s shutout streak would be over. He did his job, and Kapler was impressed with both Adam Duvall and Santos’s debuts:
“Both of them came in, in their first major league appearance with a lot on the line and a lot at stake and they were able to deliver strikes. Obviously the credit goes to them and their coaches at the minor league level but to some degree I think you could give some credit to our catchers. They work really hard pregame to get these pitchers ready and we are all looking to instill confidence in them so it’s definitely a group effort and everybody had a hand in their performance tonight.”
Matt Wisler allowed a walk in the seventh but a 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout ended the Marlins inning. Zach Pop coaxed groundouts from La Stella and Dubon in the seventh then struck out Brandon Crawford, who pinch hit for Wisler and checked his swing but it was called a third strike. Pop only needed 22 pitches in two perfect innings.
Crawford entered the eighth at shortstop and Dubon moved to second base after playing shortstop all game. Tommy La Stella exited the game going 0-for-3 and joined Longoria who exited the game in the fourth on the bench.
Kapler explained his team’s ability to move around the diamond and play multiple positions. He broke down every roster change that took place during Thursday’s 3-0 win:
“It’s no easy task to ask Wilmer Flores not to be just good at one position but three … Mauricio Dubon [became, due to coaching staff] an average major league center fielder but then on top of that, to ask him to move back to shortstop which isn’t his first infield position and be able to play such a great game at short, super encouraging … we have to get these guys ready for anything so Darren Ruf coming into this game and playing first base from left field, he started the game in left and then he moved to first base means he is prepared for anything. Also joking with Darren Ruf I think that was his first complete game since around the time Dickerson had his baby last year so that’s another fun one.”
Tyler Rogers took the mound for the Giants in the eighth up 3-0 and that was the score after his 1 2 3 inning. Jake McGee picked up his seventh save in eight appearances six when he struck out all three Marlins in the ninth.
Casali was very modest and said it was nice to get some recognition. He compared being a catcher to being a lineman in the NFL:
“As a catcher I pride myself on being defense, game calling and receiving first … I would say the catchers are kinda like the offensive lineman of baseball. Me and Buster work really, really hard behind the scenes and it feels like finally, it comes to the forefront and I am pretty proud. Obviously I am not the one throwing the pitches but five in a row, its pretty sweet.”
The San Francisco Giants started their seven-game homestand Thursday. The series continues Friday night.
The Giants now have the second best record in the NL.