It is rare that Bruce Bochy is hesitant to call upon his closer in a tight situation.
Will Smith has been a rare closer this year, though.
The Giants signaled before Saturday’s game at Oracle Park that they did not want to use Smith, who is perfect in save opportunities but had pitched in their past four games.
Make that the past five games.
Smith has closed out every game of this winning streak, plus an appearance in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Dodgers, throwing 99 pitches in the span, after San Francisco’s 8-7 nail-biter over the Brewers.
Before the game, Bochy said he would have to talk with Smith. Eventually, the manager, bullpen coach/temporary pitching coach Matt Herges and Smith agreed if needed, he could pitch Saturday — and only if the Giants were ahead.
“I told him I was fine,” said the 29-year-old trade bait after his 18th save. “… I wasn’t going to lie to Boch. I felt like I could’ve got it done. So I was truthful with him and honest with him. Just got a little hairy there at the end.”
Hairy indeed, perfect in his encapsulations, too. Entering with an 8-6 lead, Smith struck out Jesus Aguilar and Lorenzo Cain before Christian Yelich homered. Ryan Braun singled, and Yasmani Grandal struck a slider into left-center that, had it gotten away from Mike Yastrzemski, could have tied the game.
Of course, it didn’t, and Smith remained flawless.
Bochy said definitively Smith, who threw 28 pitches Saturday, would not pitch Sunday.
“An off-day? We’ll see, maybe I can talk him into it,” Smith joked when informed of his manager’s words. “I’ll definitely take the off-day tomorrow and do what I can to recover and be ready for the series against LA.”