PHILADELPHIA -- Athletes are used to seeing their names on a fan's back. They aren't so accustomed, however, to seeing their face on a fan's front.
But when Ken Giles looked out into the stands from the mound Sunday, he saw his silhouette staring back at him off the chest of nearly every child at Citizen's Bank Park. Fully rested, the right-handed reliever made the best of Ken Giles T-shirt Day, earning his second victory of 2015 in his longest outing of the year in the Phillies' 6-4 win over the Giants.
Giles threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout, hitless relief, striking out three, allowing one baserunner on a walk and stranding the two runners he inherited. Sunday was only the seventh time Giles had pitched since May 20 and with that rest he recorded five outs for the first time since Aug. 15, 2014 when he went two innings, also against the Giants.
Manager Ryne Sandberg said that with the 6 1/3 innings the bullpen had to throw Saturday, Giles was the player who had to step up and was proud that he did. Though Giles is accustomed to topping out at one inning, he said he is comfortable throwing deeper if he needs to.
"For me it's not that much of a difference," he said. "I've just got to keep my mindset that I'm going back out and then make sure I keep focused, keep my gears going and make sure I don't think about anything else."
That focus came into play at a critical time. Giles entered the game with two men on base and one out in the seventh inning of a tie game. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, two men with 57 combined RBIs, were the next two batters due up. But Giles disposed of the pair, forcing Posey to pop out to second base and Belt to fly out to the warning track in left-center field.
Giles said that though he is used to pitching in the eighth inning, the pressure situation in the seventh didn't feel foreign to him.
"It's the same situations as in the eighth inning: You've got to hold that lead," he said. "I'm still trying to hold that lead or give us a chance to win."
Getting the win wasn't the only thing Giles was trying to do, however. Giles' fastball, which in 2014 averaged about 98 mph, has dipped in velocity this year to about 96 mph. However, on his final pitch of the afternoon, Giles rung up Andrew Susac with a 97-mph fastball.
Despite this seemingly positive indicator, Giles said he still doesn't feel as if his fastball is where he wants it to be.
"I'm still working on things and I'm still off," he said. "I've still got [things] to work with, mostly mechanical work. It's just one of those things. But slowly, but surely I'll figure it out."
As for the giveaway T-shirt, Giles said he thinks that's a work in progress too.
"It needs improving," he said. "But overall it was great."
Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.