SF Giants Recap – April 22, 2021

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In one line: Casali catches fifth straight shutout as Giants blank Marlins 3-0

SAN FRANCISCO—The next time backup catcher Curt Casali goes behind the plate to start for the Giants, he’ll be chasing an all-time catching record that has stood since 1903, the year of the first modern-era World Series.

“Tomorrow is a tough decision between the best catcher in Giants history,” said manager Gabe Kapler in reference to Buster Posey, “and the guy who is certain to catch a shutout. I have my work cut out for me.” Thursday night, the Giants blanked the Miami Marlins 3-0 at Oracle Park, and San Francisco (12-7, second in the NL West) boasts the second-most wins in baseball.

By guiding the Giants pitching staff to a fifth straight shutout when he’s the starting catcher this season, Casali joins four other big-league backstops who have done so since 1900. Casali is the first of the group to have achieved this feat with five separate starting pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani, Johnny Cueto, Alex Wood, Kevin Gausman, and tonight’s winner Aaron Sanchez.

San Francisco scored three times in the first inning, a veritable bounty for starting hurler Sanchez (1-1), who had received only one run of support in his first three outings of 2021. Facing Miami starter Daniel Casano (0-1), Casali doubled home a pair and Ruf drove him in with a single.

Throwing considerably slower than his 95 MPH reputation, Sanchez allowed two hits and two walks over five innings. Four members of the bullpen threw one no-hit inning apiece, starting with Gregory Santos, who struck out two Marlins in his MLB debut. Matt Wisler and Tyler Rogers set up Jake McGee for the save (7). The Marlins (8-10, but only one game out in the NL East) had only one baserunner after Jon Berti’s single in the second inning.

Speaking to NBC Sports, Casali recalled his plaudits for the 21-year-old Santos. “First, I said congratulations, you earned this. Enjoy every moment of it because you only get one Major League debut. The second thing I told him was something I can’t say on television.”

After the Marlins took two of three in South Florida last weekend, the season series is now even between these two clubs, who didn’t see each other in 2020 because of the pandemic-shortened season. Lost in the shuffle of tonight’s win for the home nine were three innings of scoreless relief from Zach Pop and John Curtiss.

Even with a week left in April, both clubs are already banged up. The Giants placed Donovan Solano on the 10-day IL with a calf issue, and their victory was tempered tonight by Evan Longoria leaving the game after four innings with a tight hamstring. Prior to first pitch, the Marlins sent Brian Anderson to the IL with a strained oblique, causing a late lineup submission by Miami skipper Don Mattingly. Anderson joins Starling Marte (fractured rib) on the shelf.

In 1903, Ed Phelps caught six straight shutouts for the Pittsburgh Pirates, en route to their second straight National League pennant. The Pirates then faced the American League champion Boston Americans – soon to become the Red Sox – in the first-ever World Series. Phelps’ record will face a test the next time Casali starts in place of the veteran Posey.

The other catchers to orchestrate five shutouts in a row: Alan Ashby, 1986; Chris Hoiles, 1995, and Francisco Cervelli, 2015. Ashby’s Astros won the NL West, and Cervelli’s Yankees clinched a Wild Card berth. Hoiles’ Orioles didn’t go to the playoffs, but that year a different Orioles regular took over “The Streak” – that would be Cal Ripken, overtaking Lou Gerhig for consecutive games played.

Taking that view of what Casali’s done, it’s not far-fetched to say his achievement might be a harbinger of a good season for the Giants.