Pill comes up big against rival Dodgers
Brett Pill was 1 for 22 as a pinch hitter when he stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Sunday at Dodger Stadium. He then delivered a game-winning solo home run. (AP)
Entering Sunday, Brett Pill was hitting .221 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 82 plate appearances this season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
LOS ANGELES – The Giants have gotten glimpses of a raft of players from Triple-A Fresno. You couldn’t blame manager Bruce Bochy if he hoped a breeze would carry them further out to sea.
Roger Kieschnick is a big guy with power who looks like he’s trying to spray singles. Juan Perez, for all his defensive awesomeness, does a lot of swinging and missing. Francisco Peguero … well, do any of his at-bats stick out?
Brett Pill is a little different. Unlike some of the others, he has a legitimate shot to be in the plans for next year’s Opening-Day roster. The Giants always have liked his simple, low-maintenance, right-handed swing and felt he could have a nice career as a big league bench player.
There was one problem. Pill was 1 for 22 as a pinch hitter when he stepped to the plate Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
That’s why his home run off Paco Rodriguez did more than snap a tie and send the Giants to a 4-3 victory and a three-out-of-four series win. It might have jumpstarted Pill’s confidence. If he can barrel up against a tough pitcher who’d held opponents to a .158 average, maybe he can hit other top relievers.
“It’s not an easy job, and he’s had a rough go of it,” Bochy said. “These guys face setup men and closers and I get concerned about young guys losing their confidence. I told him, `I’m making it hard on you, I know.’ But that at-bat, even the tough strikes, he took them until he got to a pitch he could handle.”
No question, the Giants need a more seasoned bench next year. But they can’t prioritize that area while they have a full rangetop of Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez, an everyday left fielder and a starting pitcher (or better, two) to juggle and simmer. They can’t overhaul everything. So maybe Pill, who will be out of minor league options, will get a shot.
And maybe this home run off a tough pitcher, with Pill’s friends and family in attendance, will be the ultimate moment on his “dig-me” tape.
Theater doesn’t get better than Sergio Romo against Yasiel Puig with a one-run lead and the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth.
Romo got a ground ball to shortstop on the first pitch. He’s 35 for 39 in save chances.
At least the Giants don’t need to find a closer this offseason.
“He showed that last year, going back to Cincinnati, with as many pitches as he threw,” Bochy said of the NL Division Series battle with Jay Bruce with two clubs’ seasons in the balance. “He doesn’t lose his poise. There’s no fear in Sergio.”
Ryan Vogelsong is ready to plead the fifth.
This is an astounding fact: Vogelsong has allowed 59 earned runs this season, and 28 of them – 47.5 percent – have come in the fifth inning.
On Sunday, for the third consecutive start, he took a shutout into the fifth only to post a crooked number.
“You try to take experience from the previous two starts and not let it happen,” said Vogelsong, who limited the rally to three runs and then got three quick ground outs in the sixth to post a quality start. “Other than that I felt I threw pretty good. I located pretty well. Today I felt I did a better job of just being consistent with the stuff. I’ve been working hard all year to find consistency in the delivery. It’s been rough and I’m not sure what the reason has been, but I definitely felt better.”
Bochy on the ending with Romo and Puig: “It takes years off you. I mean, I’m only 34.”