OAKLAND — With Madison Bumgarner starting on Saturday, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t expect to use six relievers. Bumgarner had lasted at least five innings in 89 straight starts — a franchise record and the longest active streak in baseball.
But the left-hander went just four frames against the Oakland A’s, leaving the contest with no outs and the bases loaded in the fifth. The Giants then sent the game into extra innings, adding stress to their bullpen.
So in the series finale on Sunday, Bochy anticipates using a creative approach to handle the latter innings. Starters Derek Holland and Andrew Suarez could feature, while relievers Reyes Moronta and Sam Dyson are unlikely to be available. An off day Monday and the potential return of injured starter Jeff Samardzija this week give Bochy the flexibility to deploy that unconventional approach.
“We think we have some coverage,” Bochy said.
Moronta has been San Francisco’s escape hatch in recent weeks, bailing the team out repeatedly after coming in with runners on base. He induced a bases-loaded double play in the ninth inning on Saturday and finished his two-inning outing without allowing a hit. He has a 1.81 ERA.
Dyson’s past month has been shakier. He initially won the closer’s job after previous ninth-inning man Hunter Strickland went on the disabled list with a broken hand, but after faltering in that role and blowing a save on June 28 against the Colorado Rockies, he was relegated to middle-inning duties.
Dyson threw well on Saturday, though, cleaning up Bumgarner’s mess in the fifth inning by getting Mark Canha to ground into a double play and tossing a clean sixth. While Bochy didn’t rule Dyson out for Sunday, he said he’d try to avoid using him.
“[Dyson] came into a role that’s a little earlier than what he’s accustomed to, but we needed some help there and he got the big double play to keep it within range,” Bochy said. “I thought he did a real nice job to hold them at bay there and give us a chance.”
Holland pitched out of the bullpen on Saturday, striking out two. Though he’s been mostly used as a starter this year, he’ll be available again out of the bullpen in the series finale. Suarez has only been used in the rotation thus far, but he could be leaned on in a relief role given the workload of Moronta and Dyson.
If starter Johnny Cueto pitches deep into the game, however, that might not be necessary. Cueto has a 7.20 ERA in two outings since returning from a sprained elbow, though he appeared more comfortable in his last start against the Chicago Cubs.
“He’s made quite a bit of progress if you look from his first start back to the last one, that was better,” Bochy said. “That’s what we’re hoping continues. … Hopefully we’ll get a quality start tonight.”
As expected, Samardzija completed a bullpen on Sunday. His injured shoulder will be evaluated Monday to determine whether he’s ready to return to the active roster.
Third baseman Evan Longoria is slated to play nine innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday night as he continues his rehab from a broken hand. He went 0-for-4 on Saturday for the River Cats before being pulled for Ryder Jones in the bottom of the eighth.
For the first time since July 7, left fielder Austin Slater will start for the Giants. He’s found few opportunities to enter the lineup since his mid-June promotion from Triple-A Sacramento. His 28 bats over the past month pale in comparison to the 81 at bats he received in the minor leagues in May.