The Giants claimed a victory over their closest challenger in the NL West Wednesday night, but at what cost?
They won’t have those answers until they open the MRI envelopes on Thursday. Santiago Casilla and Matt Cain are going for tests after both pitchers sustained hamstring injuries in a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Cain tweaked his right hamstring on the final pitch he threw to strike out Charlie Blackmon for the third out in the third inning. He grimaced and appeared concerned as he walked off the mound.
Walking back to the dugout was not an option that Casilla entertained. He was carried off the field in the ninth, when he made his fifth career plate appearance and ran all-out while trying to beat out a chopper. He began to pull up lame just short of first base and then collapsed in apparent agony. He did not put any weight on his right leg as trainers helped him to the dugout.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Casilla, who has provided some entertainment in his rare appearances in the batter’s box, was under orders not to swing.
“I was shocked he was running like that,” Bochy told reporters. “I told him, 'Don’t even swing.' I don’t know what got into him. I’ve never seen him run like that.”
On the Giants’ previous visit to Coors Field in April, left-hander David Huff put himself on the disabled list with a quad strain while beating out his first big league hit.
“I guess we’ll have to make a rule (for pitchers) to jog,” Bochy said. “These guys do their running. They run their sprints. I guess it’s a little different when … if you think you got a hit, you’re going to go for it.”
Casilla is headed to the disabled list for certain, Bochy told reporters. He and GM Brian Sabean began to discuss roster possibilities, and they’ll probably turn back to George Kontos or Jake Dunning for the short term. At least Triple-A Fresno is home and the Giants should be able to get a fresh arm to Denver in time for Thursday’s rubber-match matinee.
As for Casilla’s setup role, Jean Machi has pitched well all season and likely would slide into that spot, with more leveraged appearances for Juan Gutierrez as well. The reliever who might be leaned on heaviest is Jeremy Affeldt, since he has the stuff to get right-handers out. But Affeldt has allowed more baserunners lately.
Casilla was batting -– and was going to begin the ninth -– one day after closer Sergio Romo threw a season-high 24 pitches while blowing his second save chance in 17 opportunities.
If Casilla did something major like sustained a torn hamstring tendon that requires surgery, he could be out for the remainder of the season, or at least till mid-September. It took former Giants closer Armando Benitez four months to return when he required a hamstring tendon repair in 2005.
Casilla wasn’t available to speak with reporters but teammates told Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group that the right-hander was in a great mood and made fun of his at-bat and baserunning while promising to return soon.
(It should be pointed out that Casilla’s spot in the lineup was due up third when he entered to pitch in the eighth inning, but Bochy didn’t double-switch –- likely because the manager had a short, four-man bench. He already had used Ehire Adrianza and Buster Posey has an irritated nerve in his back.)
[RELATED: Right hamstring forces Cain from game]
As for Cain, the Giants have to hope that his hamstring injury is as minor as the strained left hip that caused Tim Hudson to miss just one start. (Hudson returns to the rotation on Thursday, and once again, the Giants will rely on him to soak up innings.)
Cain said he didn’t hurt himself when he reacted to D.J. LeMahieu’s line drive, which deflected off the pitcher’s glove before he scrambled to throw for the first out of the third inning. It was the final pitch to Blackmon that caused the injury, Cain said.
Is Cain optimistic?
“Yeah, I’m going to try to be,” he told reporters. “We’ll see tomorrow how it feels. Today I’ve got some adrenaline going. Tomorrow we’ll see how it reacts, how it goes.”
If Cain has to go on the DL, expect Yusmeiro Petit to assume a place in the rotation. Petit got the victory with three shutout innings Wednesday and he’s already made three spot starts this season.
Cain had terrific stuff and allowed just one baserunner in his three innings, when he hit Justin Morneau with a pitch.
“I felt like I was throwing good, had a good idea where it as going early,” Cain said. “That’s the kind of start you want to have. That’s the way you want to start most of your games.”
Just not the way you want to finish -– even amid a victory.