SF Giants: Three key takeaways from the Rangers series sweep
By Jeff Young
The SF Giants swept a brief, two-game series from the Texas Rangers, nabbing a 4-2 victory on Tuesday. San Francisco strengthened their hold on first place in the National League West and are now 2.5 games ahead of the San Diego Padres.
SF Giants: Three takeaways from the Rangers series
1. Gabe Kapler’s bench management continues to pay dividends
Despite the Giants’ strong start to the season, Gabe Kapler has not received a ton of credit. While his bullpen management has been questionable at times, his management of the bench has been strong.
On the year, Giants pinch hitters have registered a .181/.326/.458 line with three doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 16 RBI. The batting average is not great, but the Giants have still found a way to get on base at a high clip, and they are hitting the ball with authority.
This was on display during Monday night’s game. Right-handed hurler Kyle Gibson started the game for Texas, so the Giants used a lineup heavy with left-handed hitters. However, when the Rangers went to a left-handed reliever, Kapler used three consecutive, right-handed pinch hitters consisting of Austin Slater, Darin Ruf, and Mauricio Dubón.
Before this maneuver, the game was tied at one. Slater walked, and then Ruf and Dubón slashed back-to-back singles to score Slater. Ruf scored in the very next at-bat due to an errant throw by former Giants prospect Charlie Culberson.
The Giants created a 3-1 lead, and the bullpen shut the door to save the game. The outcome of this game might have looked different had Kapler not used three pinch hitters in a row. San Francisco has a strong bench with everyone fulfilling a specific role, and Kapler has put players in the position to succeed. His management of the bench is one characteristic that stands out early in the season.