AT&T PARK — On Monday, the San Francisco Giants and Buster Posey decided that he wouldn’t be headed to Washington, D.C. for the 2018 All-Star Game.
His right hip had just gotten too bad. It had sapped his power, it hurt when he caught and it hurt when he hit. There was only a hope that an injection after Sunday’s first-half finale would alleviate the pain he’d been feeling all season.
“If I hadn’t been selected to the All-Star Game, you guys never would have found out about it,” Posey said.
The Giants’ 31-year old backstop — who caught all 11 innings of Monday’s game — won Wednesday’s after catching all 13. After a three-inning, three-strikeout, no-hit relief appearance by starter Dereck Rodriguez, Posey stepped up with two men on and two outs and drove a 2-2 single off the right field wall for the a 5-4 win.
“I guess he didn’t want to play another inning,” Rodriguez said.
Thanks to persistent right hip inflammation, Posey has the second-lowest isolated power stat of his career, and is hitting a career-low .282. He finished Wednesday 3-for-7, though, thanks to a tip from hitting coach Rick Schu.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with throughout the year, so it’s not anything new,” Posey said. “I know how to go about it. Schu gave me a pointer a couple of days ago that I feel like got me in a good place, and hopefully can keep me going.”
“Catchers are a whole different breed,” said Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez. “They get banged up back there and they go like it’s nothing. To be feeling something for the majority of the season with his hip, and still going back there every day and hitting the ball as well as he is right now, he’s just a whole different animal. Future Hall of Famer.”
The rest of the Giants offense, on the other hand, was once again anemic. After a four-run first sparked by a leadoff home run from Chase d’Araud, the Giants put leadoff men aboard in the third, seventh and ninth, but couldn’t manage to break away from the Cubs. San Francisco (49-46) left 25 men on base.
Posey himself had a chance to put an end to a marathon series finale in the ninth. Instead, with a man on second and one out, he flew out to deep left. A healthy hip would have gotten the Giants home early.
Rodriguez said that Posey brought energy and creative pitch calling to the outing, despite his ailing lower half.
Despite striking out seven in five innings, starter Johnny Cueto surrendered three runs on a pair of homers, allowing Chicago to stay in striking distance after San Francisco got four runs in the first off d’Arnaud’s homer, a two-run double by Gorkys Hernandez and the first big league RBI for Steven Duggar.
Cueto’s right hand went numb after a he grounded out to second in the fourth, and in the fifth, he allowed a two-run homer to Kris Bryant and a walk, before settling down to retire the side.
Javier Baez took reliever Tony Watson deep to center in the seventh to tie things up at 4-4, ending Watson’s streak of 20 2/3 scoreless ininings at home. It was Watson’s fourth time pitching in the last six days.
The Giants then got six shutout relief innings, including two from left-hander Will Smith and three from Rodriguez, who was available to throw up to 100 pitches, since he was on regular rest. He’ll be available out of the bullpen against the Oakland Athletics this weekend.
“We just couldn’t tack on until that last hit by Buster, but what a job the bullpen did, one run in eight innings,” Bochy said. “They’re fighting, and that’s all we can ask. We had the right guy up. I can assure you, Buster wanted to end that game as bad as anybody. This day off couldn’t come at a better time.”
Posey said he will “certainly” relish the day off on Thursday, after a contentious series against the Cubs. On Friday, the Giants start what’s sure to be a tough one against the A’s, who came into play on Wednesday as one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Giants will start Madison Bumgarner on Friday, Jeff Samardzija on Saturday and Andrew Suarez on Sunday.