San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Big Three in Effect, Casilla Gets Back on Horse

May 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Santiago Casilla (46) celebrates with catcher Buster Posey (28) after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Santiago Casilla (46) celebrates with catcher Buster Posey (28) after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

On this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss the team’s big three, Casilla getting back on the horse, and two for the price of one.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants‘ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Friday night, the Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second straight day, coming out on the happy side of a 3-1 decision. Jeff Samardzija earned the win for San Francisco, pushing his record to 5-2, while Shelby Miller took the loss to fall to 1-4 on the year.

San Francisco finds themselves two games over .500 again thanks to this three-game win streak, and remain in a virtual tie atop the National League West (the Los Angeles Dodgers hold a slim lead by .002 percentage points). Here’s what went on Friday night.

1 – Giants Rolling with a Big Three Again

Giants’ starter Jeff Samardzija was outstanding again on Friday against the Diamondbacks. In eight innings (his third eight-inning start of the season), Samardzija allowed eight hits that led to only one run, leading to his fifth win of the season and whittling his ERA down to 2.88 on the season.

Samardzija didn’t have his strikeout stuff on Friday, and struggled to put away hitters once he got into a two-strike count. He only struck out three Diamondbacks, and of his 112 pitches, 33 came with two strikes in the count. It didn’t matter, as he coaxed 10 groundball outs (two double plays) and nine flyball outs.

With his ERA dropping under three, Samardzija joins fellow Giants’ starters Madison Bumgarner (2.72) and Johnny Cueto (2.97) as one of three starting pitcher trios in the National League with sub-three ERA’s (Chicago’s Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester, and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Stephen Strasburg). After Bumgarner had to shoulder most of the load last season, the added arms have picked up the slack and given San Francisco a serious triple threat.

2 – Santiago Casilla Gets Back on the Horse

Giants’ closer Santiago Casilla blew a save on Wednesday and loaded the bases with two outs before being pulled on Thursday, but he was right back on the mound Friday night in the ninth inning of a close game. He dusted himself off, got back up on the horse, and recorded the final two outs to get things moving in the right direction again.

Casilla struck out both batters he faced, but Welington Castillo didn’t make it easy on the right-hander. Castillo saw nine pitches, fouling off six of them, with a couple of long, scary foul balls among them. Casilla finally got the Diamondbacks’ catcher with an inside curveball that was called for strike three. The final out was much easier, as Casilla got Yasmany Tomas to swing through strikes two and three.

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After the game ended, Casilla had another little outburst on the mound, this time celebratory. Winning cures all that ails.

3 – Double Your Pleasure? No, Double Your Pain

The Giants entered Friday’s contest leading the National Leagues with 34 double plays grounded into, and finished the day leading all of baseball in that category. They grounded into five more twin killings on Friday, pushing their total to 39 to surpass the Los Angeles Angels.

That’s a consequence that comes from the Giants putting the ball in play as much as they do. Their 16.5 percent strikeout rate as a team is the second-lowest in baseball (behind only those same Angels), so double plays will come when a team makes that much contact.

Luckily, Joe Panik‘s huge three-run home run (his fifth of the season, tying him with Hunter Pence for the team lead) was the difference in the game and made all that forgettable. Still, they shouldn’t make a habit of grounding into five double plays in a game.

4 – Brandon Belt‘s Streak Continues

Brandon Belt has excelled this season while using a different approach at the plate, and he now has a 21-game streak of reaching base successfully. He was hitless in two official at-bats on Friday, but worked a pair of walks.

In those 21 games, Belt has taken 22 walks and collected 21 hits, as well as being hit once by a pitch. That’s 44 times on base in a 21-game span, which is absolutely ridiculous. Overall on the season, his 30 walks are tied for third in baseball, and his .442 on-base percentage is fifth.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Giant Killers Tamed, Drama in Ninth

That’s it for today’s edition of the Morning Minute. Up next, San Francisco and Arizona continue their series. The Giants will hand the ball to Jake Peavy with a chance to clinch the series, while Arizona will counter with Patrick Corbin as they attempt to split the series.