By Morris Phillips
Philadelphia fans will boo anyone at anytime. They’re pretty much known for that.
But it’s not all knucklehead behavior, there’s some common sense in there as well. So when it became clear that this was Gabe Kapler’s night, Philly fans relented.
The Giants, behind Brandon Belt’s bat and brilliant pitching, shut down the Phillies and stopped the boos, winning 2-0 at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.
Kevin Gausman survived six eventful innings to pick up the win and three Giants’ relievers finished the job, sparing Kapler any trips to the mound to incite the boo birds. The win, Kapler’s 200th as a manager, superceded all that huffing and puffing anyway.
“My feelings are I’m just kind of focused on doing a good job with the San Francisco Giants,” Kapler said when asked about his first return after two seasons managing the Phillies, “And that’s genuinely how I feel.”
What could have been all hyped up and agitated, was rendered mundane, first by Belt, who provided all the scoring in the third with a two-run shot off starter Chase Anderson. The slugger welcomed Anderson’s hanging breaking ball and redirected it 372 feet away beyond the right centerfield wall. But Belt’s blow didn’t portend a slugfest.
Instead, Gausman settled in, Anderson didn’t allow anything else and batters on both sides squandered some choice opportunities. The teams combined to go 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position, but it felt like Gausman faced all 15, as the Giants’ ace wiggled out of jam after jam.
“He wasn’t lights-out stuff — I think he’ll tell you the same,” Kapler said of Gausman. “He was just a fighter today, and I think that’s the reason he was able to do what he did.”
In the fourth, Gausman was saddled with runners at second and third, no outs. But he executed Plan A, striking out Mickey Moniak and Nick Maton, hitters with little big league experience (26 at-bats combined) inexplicably hitting back-to-back in the Philadelphia lineup. Pinch hitter Brad Miller was next, and Gausman tricked him with a splitter that was grounded to third for an easy third out.
Matt Wisler, Camilo Doval, and Wandy Peralta each contributed an inning of scoreless relief and the Giants had back-to-back shutouts after Sunday’s 1-0 win at Miami.
Kapler’s 200th win came with the fourth-year manager stuck on 200 losses, giving him the unique distinction in Major League history of holding both totals at same time. But that is his history: finishing two games under .500 with the Phillies (2018) and Giants (2020), and exactly. 500 in Philadelphia in 2019. This season’s 10-6 start–ironically with Kapler’s starting pitchers and bullpen being deployed brilliantly and backing it up with their performances–reflects the growth, especially juxtaposed against his numbers from the previous seasons.
“Hopefully it’s a big win for him, his first time coming back to Philly,” Gausman said of his manager. “It was a good way to kind of set the tone for this series.”
The Giants and Phillies resume play Tuesday with the Webb/Wheeler matchup at 4:05pm. Logan Webb returns to the starting rotation due to Johnny Cueto’s injury to face Zack Wheeler, who was traded from the Giants’ farm system nearly a decade ago.