San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Bullpen Finally Gets Work, Heyward’s Amazing Catch

May 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) looks on prior to facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) looks on prior to facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

In this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss the bullpen finally getting some work, Suarez’s nice audition, and Heyward’s great grab.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Friday, the Giants’ eight-game win streak was snapped at the hands of Chicago Cubs’ ace and reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who earned his eighth win in nine starts. Jake Peavy was on the losing side, falling for the fifth time in six decisions.

Despite the loss, the Giants keep a comfortable 3.5-game lead in the NL West, and are the only Western team with a winning record, at 25-19. The Los Angeles Dodgers (21-22) and Colorado Rockies (20-21) are tied for second, and both are riding three-game losing streaks. Here’s what went on Friday night.

1 – The Bullpen Finally Gets Work

Jake Peavy facing an extremely good Cubs’ lineup wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring from the get-go, and it didn’t last long. Peavy got just five outs, giving up five runs on seven hits. To make up for all the rest they received in San Diego, the Giants’ relievers had to work 7.1 innings on Friday.

Derek Law was the first out of the ‘pen, and he worked 1.1 perfect innings after Peavy’s early exit. Albert Suarez took the ball for three strong innings, and we’ll talk more about him a little later. George Kontos made his re-debut, and gave up a pair of solo home runs in two innings. Cory Gearrin got two outs in the ninth, but gave up a run, and Javier Lopez got the final out.

In a game where the relievers were forced to get 22 outs, it wasn’t the bullpen mess that one would expect. They were mostly solid, and the lopsided score allowed Bruce Bochy to get Kontos back out there and shake off some rust after missing over a month.

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Hunter Strickland and Josh Osich are the only two relievers that haven’t seen in-game action since Monday, but they should get work out there soon enough.

2 – Albert Suarez Impressive in Long Reliever Role

The Giants haven’t needed to use their long reliever in a long time (heck, they barely needed any relievers for a while), but after a nearly 10-day layoff, Albert Suarez was back on the mound Friday night tasked with eating up some innings to save some of his fellow relievers.

Suarez was impressive in his three innings of work, allowing just one baserunner on a hit-by-pitch. He struck out one and got five groundball outs, living up to his reputation as a groundball pitcher. In his first four career outings, Suarez hasn’t allowed a run and owns a 0.857 WHIP in seven innings.

He showed solid stuff and good command over his low-90’s fastball (he also touched 95 multiple times) and big, quick curveball on Friday night. In stark contrast to starter Peavy, who has continually nibbled around the strikezone, Suarez showed no qualms about attacking hitters. Of his 33 pitches, 25 were for strikes. Maybe spending eight seasons in the minor leagues before making it to The Show made him unafraid of taking risks.

Suarez has experience as a starter in the minor leagues, with 103 of his 109 appearances starting in the first inning. He went six innings in all three of his starts for Sacramento earlier this year, and threw 163 innings in the Texas League last season, second-most in the league. If the Giants have any ideas about replacing Peavy in the rotation, Suarez can certainly be a candidate.

3 – Jason Heyward‘s Ridiculous Catch

In the bottom of the first inning, leadoff hitter Denard Span absolutely crushed a ball towards triples alley. If you pause the video and zoom in on the ball in the air, you’ll see that it has “three bases” written all over it. Cubs’ right fielder Jason Heyward, a three-time Gold Glove winner, had different thoughts.

Heyward covered an insane amount of ground in the outfield, and somehow caught up to that ball nearly at the wall to the left of the 421-feet sign on the wall. He grabbed the ball while going into his dive, completing one of the most absurd catches anyone will make this year. The ball traveled 385 feet (only the Cubs’ three home run balls were longer in the game) and came off the bat at 103 miles per hour, but Span got nothing to show for it.

Take a look, and check out just how far Heyward travels to make this grab.

Heyward didn’t just save a triple. With the speedster Span running the bases, if there’s any miscue at all, that’s an inside-the-park home run. If the ball trickles off Heyward’s glove, or bounces up against the wall and shoots back towards right field, Span is celebrating with his teammates at home plate.

Unfortunately for the Cubs and for Heyward, he slid head-first into the wall and was forced to leave the game. He was evaluated for a right abdomen injury, and as of this writing, there are no specifics except that he is scheduled to have an MRI Saturday and there is “no sharp pain“. That is great news, and hopefully he’ll be back on the field making circus catches again very soon.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Samardzija Dominates Again

That’s it for this edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants and Cubs continue their series with a late afternoon start (4:15 PM). Matt Cain takes the ball for San Francisco, looking to build off his last two starts (15 innings, 13 hits, three runs, 12 strikeouts, two walks) and still in search of his 98th career win. Jon Lester will be on the other side.