Giants settle their catching situation, regain poise in shutout win over Astros

HOUSTON — The Giants were one strike away from winning a ballgame at Minute Maid Park Tuesday night. And closer Camilo Doval refused to throw a pitch.

“We were all yelling from the top of the dugout,” Giants left fielder Blake Sabol said. “It was ‘Throw the ball! Anything you throw is good!’”

It’s never easy to decide what to throw to Yordan Alvarez, one of the best hitters on the planet. But the Giants led 2-0. The bases were empty. The count was full. A pitch clock violation would’ve resulted in an automatic ball four and allowed the Houston Astros to bring the tying run to the plate. In that crucial circumstance, a violation simply couldn’t happen.

So catcher Joey Bart used his second mound visit of the inning. And when the clock began to tick down again, Bart came out of his crouch one more time. The crowd booed as Bart made a third mound visit, with shortstop Thairo Estrada joining the conversation to help with the language barrier.

One 101.2 mph cutter and one swing later, the Giants snapped their four-game losing streak. They made a winner of Anthony DeSclafani, who picked up a tired and gastro-intestinally challenged team by firing eight shutout innings. And when they needed a young catcher to take charge of a big moment, Bart did what was necessary.

“I guess that was it — our last visit,” Bart said. “And we got a pitch over the plate and won the game there. I told him four-seam, just throw fastball away, game’s over. I think he was waiting for me to send it back over PitchCom, which I did but I don’t think he heard it. Then I started to give signs between my legs and things got sped up.

“At that point, I was on it and the dugout was on it. We were able to use that last visit and get it squared away.”

Exactly one month ago, the Giants’ catching situation was the furthest thing from squared away. They had Sabol, the Rule 5 pick, on the opening day roster along with Bart and veteran Roberto Pérez. And during that season-opening series in New York, they signed former Yankees All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez to a minor league contract with a $4 million salary in the big leagues. Then prior to the final game of that series in the Bronx on April 2, Bart was a late scratch from his first start behind the plate and instead was placed on the 10-day injured list because of lower back tightness.

It was fair to wonder when Bart would be on the active roster again.

But Bart is still here while others are not.

First, the Giants lost Pérez to season-ending shoulder surgery. Now Sánchez is out of the picture. He informed the Giants that he would opt out of his contract if they didn’t add him to the major-league roster by Tuesday. The Giants declined to do so. Although Sánchez was seemingly promised an eventual place on the team once he got up to speed at Triple A, he went just 9-for-55 (.164) with no home runs in 16 games for Sacramento.

The Giants also did not hesitate to burn through another…

Read More: Giants settle their catching situation, regain poise in shutout win over Astros 2023-05-03 18:36:58

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