BOSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch showed his growing trust in reliever Ken Giles by bringing him into the seventh inning of a tight game Friday. Giles, whose early-season struggles forced Hinch to remove him from high-leverage situations, appears to be rounding into form having allowed two runs in four innings in six May outings after being tagged for a 9.00 ERA in April.
Giles pitched a scoreless inning in a tie game Wednesday, and on Friday, he came into the game with the Astros leading, 7-6, and a runner at first base. He walked Hanley Ramirez before getting Travis Shaw to ground out to end the inning.
"The hard work is paying off now and I have more confidence in my mechanics now," Giles said. "They're more in tune, and I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing."
Giles thrives on pitching off emotion, and his confidence took a hit early in the season. These days, he's more at ease and appears more comfortable on and off the mound.
"It just felt great to get back in those tough situations again, because that's what I'm built for, that's what I'm made for," he said. "To be able to get back in that situation and be able to get that big out was a huge confidence booster for me, just being confident within myself and it's finally pays off."
The Astros acquired Giles in a high-profile trade with the Phillies in December with the expectation he would be the team's closer. His spring struggles meant he started the season as the setup reliever, and his April woes left him searching for answers.
Because the Astros have a bullpen that thrives on matchups, it was important to get Giles back into some key spots late in games, Hinch said.
"Any time you take one guy out of that scenario, it really puts a grind on the rest of your bullpen," Hinch said. "We had a couple of guys yesterday that I wasn't going to lose, so it fell to [Giles] or [Pat] Neshek, and with the way how balanced this lineup is, I felt more comfortable if something happened after Ramirez that Giles was the right guy against Shaw or [Brock] Holt, against the bottom of their order. Fortunately, he got Shaw out. Ken Giles can handle any role that we give him."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.