Why Gabe Kapler supported sending Joey Bart home on game-ending play vs. Reds

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Why Kapler supported sending Bart on game-ending play vs. Reds originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Gabe Kapler, the Giants’ coaching staff and the front office preach aggressiveness in most facets of the game.

And for the better part of three seasons, that has worked to the advantage of the Giants. But in their 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, that aggressiveness came back to bite them.

Curt Casali, just back from the seven-day concussion IL, led off the top of the ninth inning with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Joey Bart. After Tommy La Stella struck out, Mike Yastrzemski worked a walk, moving Bart into scoring position. Darin Ruf struck out, leaving Wilmer Flores as the Giants’ last hope.

Flores delivered a single to right field and third base coach Mark Hallberg waved Bart home, testing the Reds’ defensive execution.

Right fielder Aristides Aquino made a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Tyler Stephenson, who was waiting for Bart. Tag applied. Game over. Giants lose.

With Brandon Crawford due up next, did the Giants make the right call sending Bart in that situation?

“Tough call obviously, but we … and I completely support the decision to send him there,” Kapler told reporters in Cincinnati after the game. “You have to make the outfielder make the throw in that situation with two outs. Very difficult to get back-to-back hits in that situation and there’s always a chance the throw is offline. So you’re trusting your baserunner to get a good turn and then also the possibility that the ball scoots away from the catcher, up the line and just misses off target. And then we tie the baseball game.”

Aside from Bart, the only remaining position player left on the bench was outfielder Stuart Fairchild.

Kapler explained his decision to use Bart, a catcher, as the pinch-runner for Casali.

“He’s significantly faster than Casali, so it’s not necessarily that he’s a fast baserunner but you try to get an upgrade wherever you can, even if it’s a marginal upgrade and that’s why we made that move,” Kapler said.

If Kapler had used Fairchild to run for Casali and the Giants had tied the game or taken the lead in the top of the ninth inning, Bart would have had to come in to catch in the bottom of the ninth anyway, leaving the bench completely empty. Using Bart as the pinch-runner in this situation left one player at Kapler’s disposal had the Giants extended the game.

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Aquino made the throw, Stephenson came up with the ball and Bart was out by at least 15 feet. The gamble didn’t pay off in this case.

But don’t expect the Kapler and the Giants to stop being aggressive. It’s their calling card and if it had paid off Saturday, they might have come away with a thrilling win.

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