In terms of stressful situations, this is probably Kevin Pillar’s favorite of the year.
The Giants outfielder, having a frustrating first season away from the Blue Jays, did some of everything Friday, including being at the center of one of the stranger plays he’s been involved with.
On first in the bottom of the seventh, Pillar took off for second base, with lefty Alex Claudio on the mound. Claudio had him picked off and tossed to Jesus Aguilar at first, who was too slow in throwing to second. Pillar slid in ahead of the tag, but the safety of the bag left him. His right leg kicked it out of its slot and it went flying, a confused Pillar reaching for it as a tag was applied.
“Definitely left me wondering what the rule was,” said Pillar, who was ruled safe on the play after a Brewers challenge in the 5-3 Giants win at Oracle Park. “… My initial instinct was to try to reach for the base, but the base was kind of far.
“… You get there, and the base is no longer there, it’s a stressful situation.”
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) June 15, 2019
Less stressful was the rest of his night, going 3-for-3 with a pair of steals and a home run for a second straight game.
Now batting .224 — up from .202 on May 20 — his bat is beginning to show signs of waking up. His fifth-inning home run, which put the Giants ahead to stay, was his seventh at home, which is unkind to right-handed hitters.
Accepting home runs are hard to come in San Francisco has helped him hit a bunch in San Francisco, he thinks. Hitting on the road — where he can look at a shorter left-field porch and be tempted to try for it — can throw him off.
“I try to stay gap to gap [at Oracle Park],” he said. “Able to hit some balls out of here. … Sometimes when you have this thought that it’s hard to drive the ball out of the yard here, you do a little bit less. Today was just a matter of me getting good pitches.”
The Giants opted for Mark Melancon in the eighth inning over Tony Watson, which Bruce Bochy attributed to needing a day off. Melancon surrendered a run but escaped further damage.
“He’s fine. He’ll be good to go tomorrow,” the manager said of Watson, who had pitched an inning Tuesday and Wednesday. “Just felt like he could use an extra day.”
Bochy signaled that Will Smith, who closed his 17th game and appeared in his third of four, may need a rest, too.
“It will be something we discuss tomorrow,” Bochy said.