SAN FRANCISCO — For the first time in nearly three months, Buster Posey looked out at the mound and saw Sergio Romo glaring back in at a hitter.
“He looked normal,” Posey said. “So that’s a good sign.”
Romo’s return from a flexor strain wasn’t overwhelming; he faced two hitters and gave up a double to Nolan Arenado (although to be fair Arenado hits doubles against all Giants pitchers). But his presence did provide a different look for a Giants bullpen that desperately needs one.
Romo followed Javier Lopez, and when Arenado doubled, Josh Osich took over from the left side. The matchups brought Derek Law into the game next, and Santiago Casilla struck out two in a perfect ninth.
It was an array of velocities and styles and different breaking balls, and it led to the Giants giving up just one hit after Jake Peavy departed with two outs in the seventh, and cruising to a 3-1 win over the visiting Rockies.
“He’s got a presence in the bullpen that you like in the late innings,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Romo. “He’s not afraid. He’s got the experience to help guys out there.”
Romo also, the Giants hope, will provide a fresh arm. And they desperately need one. Osich is second in the league with 42 appearances, and Cory Gearrin (40), Hunter Strickland (39) and Lopez (37) rank in the top 20. It will help, too, if the Giants keep getting deep outings from their starters, and Peavy continued his hot streak, giving up one run while recording 20 outs.
“That bullpen has been used and some guys are around 40 appearances at the halfway mark,” Peavy said. “We understand that starters need to pitch deeper into games and give those guys a break.”
--- Peavy is 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA in his last eight starts and opponents are hitting just .215 off him. The Giants have won six of those eight games.
“More than anything, he’s doing a better job of pitching,” Bochy said. “He backed off a little, changed speeds, and he’s hitting his spots.”
From the press box, you could hear Peavy grunt three or four times today, but that was notable in how rare it now is to see him really try to amp it up. He has taken the foot off the gas pedal for the most part, and it’s led to good things.
Posey sees the same thing as Bochy, but he put it another way: “He’s staying out of the ‘nitro zone,’ for the most part.”
--- By Arenado’s standards, this was a bad game against the Giants. Yet he still had two doubles and made a ridiculous and somewhat hilarious play at second.
“We’ve helped make every one of his cases: Gold Glove, batting titles, all of the above,” Peavy said, smiling.
--- Mac Williamson has now made the Superman catch in left field and right field. He’ll probably never get a chance in center, but you never know. The Giants threw him out there in a spring training game in March and he made a really good running catch near the wall. Either way, you’re seeing the tools that make him such an intriguing prospect.
--- Posey’s last 20 games: .403 average, 18 runs, 12 RBI. The expectation is that he gets named to the All-Star team tomorrow, and Bochy seemed to hint that Posey won the fan vote. He was leading the last time results were announced.
The full All-Star teams will be named tomorrow, and it doesn’t sound like the Giants will have all that many representatives. The buzz in the clubhouse was that it could be as few as three players headed to San Diego.
--- Bochy indicated before the game that Denard Span would be the one clearing a roster spot for Romo, but it ended up being Albert Suarez. After the game, Bochy said Span will be checked again tomorrow, and trainers will need to see "significant improvement" in his neck following trigger injections. If Span is still hurting, the Giants still could put him on the DL tomorrow and call up another player (an extra arm, probably) to help them get through the next week.