SAN FRANCISCO — Move aside, MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. Stand back a second, two guys who have thrown the final pitch of a World Series. Hold it right there, All-Stars.
All the other Giants got bumped back a spot in the ring procession on Saturday night because Chris Heston, the night’s starter, was sent up first. Heston got his ring and then Buster Posey got his, and then the two headed down to the home bullpen to warm up for what ended up being a 4-1 win, just the fourth of the season for the Giants.
Heston didn’t let the moment overwhelm him, but he didn’t let it pass, either. He got his ring box and opened it.
“It looked real,” he said later, smiling. “So I closed the box.”
And then he closed the door on a losing streak so bad it overwhelmed championship week at AT&T Park.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Heston keeps rolling, Giants snap skid]
Heston threw 7 2/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, becoming the first Giants starter to get an out in the eighth inning this season. He is the first Giants rookie since Madison Bumgarner in 2010 to record 23 outs in a game. According to STATS LLC, Heston is the first Giants rookie since 1914 to go at least six innings in each of his first three starts of a season and give up one or fewer earned runs each time out.
“I’m on cloud nine right now and I think I have been since I got here,” he said. “I’m just trying to stick to the process and hopefully I can keep it going.”
What's that process?
“He’s a four-pitch guy with command,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “And usually that works.”
The main ingredient was again the power sinker that Heston used to get 11 outs on the ground, but he mixed in a slider, changeup and curveball. The curve was the pitch that buckled Troy Tulowitzki on Monday, and afterward, Heston was modest, saying the pitch backed up on him and that’s why one of the league’s best hitters was fooled.
It doesn’t look like a fluke, though, and in addition to Tulo, Heston added Paul Goldschmidt to his collection this week. He got the superstar first baseman looking on a nasty sinker in the third inning.
“It’s definitely a confidence-booster,” Heston said. “You go out and execute your pitches and good things happen. Buster has been in the league and is one of the best catchers out there. I just go with his pitch.”
The Giants went with Heston on Saturday, getting a win that was desperately needed. Bochy said his players were a lot more fired up after the long ring ceremony, but none of that would have mattered had the Diamondbacks gotten off to a quick start. Heston breezed through the first inning on 11 pitches.
“He’s got a calmness about him that you like,” Bochy said. “It’s a quiet confidence. He doesn’t get caught up in the hoopla.”
The Giants have made a habit of finding those types of players, and they tend to get up here and exceed outside expectations. It allows Heston to fit right in with a group that’s performed on the biggest stage.
“It seems like he just goes out there and pitches like it’s any game,” Brandon Crawford said. “I think that’s kind of the mark of a good pitcher.”
[Giants notes: Crawford adjusts to new look; team enjoys ring night]
Heston understands that his two starts this week haven’t been normal. He threw on Opening Day for the defending champs and then won on the night they got rings.
“Some of these days I’ve been lucky enough to throw have been once in a lifetime opportunities,” he said. “It’s kind of a reminder of how good last year was.”
Heston got one last reminder when he walked off the field, a winner in the big leagues for the second time. He went back to his locker and finally pulled that ring out of the box. He was here for just three appearances last season, but that’s enough to get a ring, and he savored the moment as he put it on his finger.
“That’s a pretty special feeling,” he said.