Giants putting faith in young relief corps

Giants putting faith in young relief corps

SAN FRANCISCO -- Short-term, the Giants' 5-4 loss Sunday to Miami was nothing short of exasperating for them. Long-term, they could derive encouragement from the afternoon's events. A glance at the box score revealed the sources of hope: their youthful relief pitchers.

The first three relievers manager Bruce Bochy summoned were rookies -- left-handers Steven Okert and Josh Osich, with right-hander Derek Law appearing between them. Obviously, the Giants don't believe in nursing their younger players toward maturity. Bochy has reasoned that if they're in the Major Leagues, they're ready to perform, though injuries to right-handers Sergio Romo and George Kontos hastened the recalls of Law and Okert.

"They know that every pitch is important," Bochy said. "Most of them have pitched in crisis-type situations before they come up here. ... Really, I think they've been doing a good job."

Osich allowed J.T. Realmuto's tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning and absorbed the decision. One inning earlier, however, he inherited a two-on, one-out jam from Law and coaxed Chris Johnson's double-play grounder. Osich entered Sunday tied for the National League lead with 10 appearances, reflecting Bochy's faith in him.

Panik starts double play

Osich yielded Realmuto's long ball on a 2-1 fastball that, he indicated, was supposed to graze the outside portion of the strike zone.

"I think I've proven to myself that I can get people out when it counts," said Osich, who recorded a 2.20 ERA in 35 appearances last season. "I feel like I'm throwing a lot better this year than I was last year -- getting a lot of ground-ball outs, getting double plays when I need to."

Okert, who has allowed one hit in three scoreless outings, faced just one hitter Sunday -- Dee Gordon, last year's National League batting champion. He struck out Gordon, stranding a runner at third and freezing the Giants' deficit at 4-2 in the sixth inning.

"Obviously, every game matters," Okert said. "It could come down to one last game at the end of the year and you could get put in that situation, so it's good to get the experience now."

Law worked one-third of an inning and lengthened his streak of scoreless appearances to four, spanning 3 2/3 innings. He has bolstered his reputation for maintaining command while issuing one walk and striking out six.

"They're all going to learn from this," Bochy said. "They're going to gain experience from pitching this type of ballgame."

• Kontos, recovering from a strained flexor tendon in his throwing elbow, played catch for the first time since he went on the disabled list April 18. He expects to continue this exercise through the week, barring setbacks. He's eligible for activation from the DL on May 4.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. 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.