San Francisco bullpen keeping Phillies on the edge of despair;GIANTS RELIEVERS
Late-inning relievers usually have an "edge," something that enables them to handle the stress of getting the final outs to wrap up a victory.
With Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson, the Giants usually have an edge - and certainly did so Tuesday. Lopez worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Wilson allowed a single sandwiched between a strikeout and a game-ending double-play ball in the Giants' 3-0 victory over the Phillies in China Basin.
Wilson's "edge," Lopez said, is that he takes a competitive nature "to another level. ... He's going to throw the fastball at you and he's going to throw that little slider at you. He's not going to try to mix it up, and split-finger and curveball and everything. He's coming at you with two pitches and, 'This is what I've got. Let's go to work.' "
And Lopez's edge?
"My edge is to prepare," the left-hander said. "That's my thing. I try to make sure I'm not overwhelmed or surprised by any situation. I try to think ahead of time about what might happen and how I want to go about pitching a guy."
Lopez got Chase Utley on a popup to open the eighth. That out was more important than it might have seemed; with Placido Polanco, a right-handed hitter, following Utley, Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have had to consider going to Wilson for a six-out save had Utley reached base.
As it was, Lopez retired Polanco on a grounder to third and then struck out Ryan Howard, allowing Wilson to worry only about the 25th, 26th and 27th outs.
"Anytime we can get Wilson just one inning," Lopez said, "that's what we're trying to do."
What Lopez does is get left-handed hitters out with uncanny efficiency. He came to the Giants in a trade-deadline deal with Pittsburgh. Lefties went 5-for-45 against Lopez in his two regular-season months with San Francisco. In the postseason, lefties are 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against him.
Catcher Buster Posey has two reasons for Lopez's success against lefties.
"His ball's moving a lot, No. 1," Posey said, "and then he's just giving them so many different arm angles."
Wilson tied Rod Beck's club record with 48 saves in the regular season. Tuesday's save was his fourth of the playoffs. He tries to keep the same attitude in October that he has from April through September.
Said Wilson: "It's just like another game. It's a lot easier said than done, I know that."
"There's going to be anxiety," Lopez said. "There's always going to be some tension and things like that. So, you try to just keep your calm and tell yourself that you've been in these spots before."