PHOENIX The Giants 6-2 victory Saturday night moved themanother 24 hours nearer to an NL West sprayfest, they had the added pleasure ofbeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pablo Sandoval had an encouraging game withthe bat and glove and Hunter Pence nearly up-chucked his postgame kale when he learned he has almost as many RBIs as hitsafter ripping a grand slam.
But lets begin this exposition with the important stuff.
Santiago Casilla got a hit.
As in base hit. A single. And, to risk blowing off the top of your skull,he picked up an RBI, too.
Hey, I was seeingthe ball good tonight, said the smiling right-handed reliever, whose backward-reelinghitting style resembles a dizzy piata swing if youre afraid the piata haseight-inch fangs.
Casilla had two career plate appearances entering Saturdaynight, and they were memorable to everyone but Casilla. He had more recoil than a .500 Magnum while drawing a comical walk last year at Florida and he struck out earlier this year at Milwaukee.
Then his spot in the lineup came up with the bases loaded inthe eighth inning. Whatever the outcome, this was going to be good.
Casilla showed bunt on the first pitch and bailed out. Hewas under orders not to swing, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
After he took one, he looked at me, Bochy said. I toldhim, Go ahead and swing. I think we were all shocked, really, that he evenmade contact.
Matt Lindstrom threw a 95 mph fastball and Casilla fisted itto the right side, where it snuck through. And just like that, he has a .667 on-base percentage for his career -- areal Moneyball player. And to think, the As gave him away.
The Giants already had one braggadocio in their bullpen withJeremy Affeldt. Now, alas, they have two. What did Affeldt think of Casillas form?
The one where he jumped in their dugout or the one where hegot the hit? Affeldt said. I tell ya, he had a flat bat. Hes got an RBI. I tip my hat.
All the hard work hes doing, Affeldt added, stifling agrin, its paid off.
But if there ever comes a day when Affeldt has to faceCasilla
If he gets a hit off me, I will take my uniform top off, walkoff the mound and retire, Affeldt said.
Casilla was presented with the ball from his first bigleague hit and the lineup card. He also commandeered another souvenir: The bathe borrowed from Gregor Blanco.
He's not borrowing it any longer.
Now this is my bat. Its a Blanco bat, Casilla said. Isaid, Give me that bat. He said, No no no no no! I said, I need that bat.Its very good.
Casilla said he never got a hit before in his professionalcareer. Nothing in winter ball, either. So perhaps that explains why he didntknow what to do after running through first base. He turned left when heshouldve turned right, then had to double-step it to the bag to avoid gettingtagged out.
I mean, who panics after a base hit? Affeldt said. Theykept replaying it and the shock on his face was the best part.
Maybe Casilla just needed experience. He said last time, hetried the dead pull approach and struck out. This time?
Go the other way, he said. I try to be like Posey.
Its a game of adjustments, right?
If anything, Casilla proved the old clich beyond any reasonable doubt: Any majorleaguer with a bat in his hands really is dangerous.