The San Francisco Giants saw their even-year postseason magic vanish Tuesday night as their bullpen melted down.
But perhaps no one took it harder than a pitcher who never saw the mound.
Santiago Casilla, who lost his closer job in mid-September, was never even called to warm up as the Giants used five relievers in the ninth inning while the Chicago Cubs staged a four-run rally to win the game 6-5 and take the National League Division Series.
After the loss, Casilla was in tears at his locker.
“I never had that moment before during five years here,” Casilla told the San Jose Mercury News. “I had a little struggle. But everybody [in the bullpen] has had their bad moments. I think they forgot all the great moments I’ve had here. I’ve pitched a lot in the playoffs and done my job. I know I am a good pitcher.”
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Giants lose even-year mojo to late-game collapse
The Giants almost kept their elimination-game and even-year streaks alive — until their bullpen delivered a meltdown for the ages.
Casilla had nine blown saves this season, tied for the most in the majors, to 31 saves. And he was part of the Giants’ biggest problem as they went from owning the best record in baseball at the All-Star break to battling for a wild-card spot. The bullpen helped set a dubious franchise record, with the team losing nine games it led after eight innings — the most in the majors — including five in September.
“I’m a pitcher. I’m part of the bullpen. I know I have had some bad moments in September and during the season, but I have good numbers in the playoffs and I know I can pitch in that situation,” Casilla told The Mercury News. “I know I can pitch in the big leagues.”
Casilla, 36, was part of the Giants teams that won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and had served as the team’s primary closer since midway through the ’14 season. He has a 3.19 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in the regular season. In addition, he has a 0.92 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 25 postseason appearances, all with the Giants, with one win in 2012 and four saves in 2014. He has never blown a postseason save.
With Casilla set to become a free agent, Tuesday’s loss might have been his last game in a Giants uniform.
“I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” he told The Mercury News.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.