As Santiago Casilla battled to clinch a thrilling come-from-behind win for the Giants, Derek Law stood along the dugout rail and listened to a peculiar chant.
“There were D-Law chants,” Law said in a an interview after the game, his eyes wide. “It felt like a home game.”
Those chants came from the cheering section for Law, a Pittsburgh native who had his parents, fiancee, her parents, friends and former classmates in the stands. But Law also deserved cheers for what he did on the mound.
The rookie struck out three in two sharp innings after replacing a struggling Jeff Samardzija, earning his third win of the season. Law got the ball rolling and four other relievers closed out the 7-6 win, with the bullpen striking out nine over six scoreless innings.
Yes, the Giants wiped out a five-run deficit with a surprisingly deep offensive attack (Ramiro Pena had two more hits), but the best sign on this night came out of the bullpen. In particular, the Giants had to be thrilled with the way three young relievers threw the ball.
Law maxed out at 97 during his stint, and after putting the first two runners on in the fifth he struck out Jung Ho Kong and Matt Joyce and got Josh Harrison to ground out. Hunter Strickland sat at 98 mph while getting two outs in front of Osich. The left-hander, who has struggled at times this season, stranded a runner in that inning by whiffing John Jaso on tailing fastballs that registered 97, 97 and 96.
Osich struck out two more in the seventh and Cory Gearrin had an easy eighth. Casilla, pitching for the first time in over a week because of the birth of his child, hit 96 while clinching the save. Casilla’s final pitch was a 94 mph sinker that Gregory Polanco swung through. Buster Posey threw down to second to nail Jaso, who inexplicably had been sent.
Just like that, game over. Ten wins in 11 games.
“I made sure I let all these guys know how appreciative I am of that,” Samardzija said of his teammates. “It says a lot about your team when as a starter you go out and have a crummy day and you go out and see the outcome we had today. That doesn’t happen too often.”
Samardzija has for the most part been a standout for the Giants, and they have to be confident they’ll get this home-run issue ironed out. If they can, Samardzija stands as a strong No. 3 for a team that’s second in the NL in wins (46), just one behind the Cubs.
The Giants have patched holes in the lineup and in the rotation. A quiet issue thus far has been the bullpen, but on Wednesday night the group was a strength. The effort depended heavily on three young players — Law, Strickland and Osich — who could be the seven-eight-nine relievers for the Giants, in some order, as soon as next year.
On Wednesday, the future looked bright, and Law knew just how to celebrate. He was pleasantly surprised this week to report to PNC Park and discover that the visiting clubhouse carried Frank’s Pizza, a local chain.
“The last couple of games, I’ve just been crushing that,” he said, smiling.