Strickland rebounds with clutch inning

One night after struggling, Giants reliever gets double play, flyout

Strickland rebounds with clutch inning

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Strickland's still in the process of building his career. He might have completed part of his foundation Wednesday.

Strickland excelled in the eighth inning of the Giants' 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, inheriting a bases-loaded, none-out jam and escaping it by coaxing Ramon Cabrera's double-play grounder and Eugenio Suarez's harmless fly to right field. Though a run scored on the double play to trim the Giants' 5-2 advantage, they gladly traded a run for two outs in that situation.

Strickland's resolute effort contrasted with his performance Tuesday during Cincinnati's five-run seventh inning. He yielded Brandon Phillips' single that tied the score, hit Todd Frazier with a pitch and walked Ivan DeJesus Jr. to load the bases and prompt his removal from the game.

Yet manager Bruce Bochy saw fit to summon Strickland in another critical situation. The 26-year-old with the 100 mph fastball appreciated the opportunity.

"That's an honor to be in that situation," Strickland said. "It boosted my confidence that much more."

Of course, overcoming one night's failure to help forge the next day's success is part of a reliever's job description. Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti may have nurtured Strickland's resilience by chatting separately with the right-hander before Wednesday's game. As Strickland related, Righetti discussed mostly pitching technique, while Bochy focused on pitching philosophy. Bochy's message: There's no need for overexertion.

"Sometimes he tries to bull his way through the hitters," Bochy said.

Strickland's ability to bounce back Wednesday, Bochy added, "shows how tough a kid he is. ... I know he's going to wash off what happened."

Strickland indicated he absorbed Bochy's advice.

"Sometimes we feel a little too strong at points and we still have to be strong mentally, not try to overpower everybody," he said.

Bochy actually hoped to avoid using Strickland, who appeared in the previous two games. But after Mike Broadway caused alarm in the eighth by yielding Joey Votto's single, hitting Phillips with a pitch and walking Frazier, Bochy had little choice. This time, Strickland was the right one.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.