Bruce Bochy let Chris Heston throw 116 pitches on July 21, and afterward he said it’s important to let young pitchers get deep on occasion.
"Sometimes it's not bad to get stretched out," Bochy said back then. "I really believe that. I think it builds strength and stamina."
A couple weeks later, Heston looks like he may be hitting a bit of a rookie wall. The right-hander gave up five runs in the first two innings of a 5-4 loss to the Cubs on Thursday and nearly got pulled in the first. Heston has given up eight runs on 12 hits during this road trip, throwing just 8 2/3 innings in two starts.
“He was out of sync,” Bochy said Thursday. “It was obvious he was battling to get his delivery. His slot was off a little bit early and that’s uncommon for him. That’s where he was missing. He yanked some balls and was up. I’ll give him credit. He bowed his neck and gave us two more innings. He found it and started throwing the ball well, but unfortunately the pitch count those first two innings just caught up with him.”
Heston made sure the bullpen didn’t take a total beating a day before Ryan Vogelsong makes a spot start (for the injured Mike Leake). That helped, but this still wasn’t what Heston expected from his first night at Wrigley Field.
"It's one of those things where I just kind of painted myself into a corner a few times," Heston said. "You nibble, nibble and fall into hitters' counts and these guys are going to make you pay. It was just trying to make that perfect pitching instead of just trusting the movement in the zone."
Heston seemed to find his stride after the Kyle Schwarber homer, and he’ll have an extra day off before his next start, so there’s plenty of time to find a fix to whatever has ailed him on this road trip. He was missing by several inches most of the first two innings and several times missed location by a foot or more, but Bochy is confident that Heston will return to form.
“He’ll bounce back,” the manager said. “I think he showed when he came up here, this guy has a great makeup and he’s a tough kid.”
--- Nick Noonan signed a minor league deal to return to the Giants organization. Noonan had been released by the Yankees’ Triple-A club last month, and he’ll join Triple-A Sacramento. That team needed a little bit of middle infield depth with Kelby Tomlinson up in the big leagues now.
--- This won’t matter this year, but the first two innings (and the Leake injury) showed that the Giants should probably try to get a little more bullpen flexibility next season. We’ve seen other clubs — most notably the Dodgers — rotate fresh arms in and out of the back spots of their bullpen, but the Giants have just one reliever (Hunter Strickland) with options right now. There's really no way to call up a Josh Osich or Mike Broadway to get them through the weekend.