DENVER - In the seventh inning Thursday, manager Bruce Bochy walked out to see the home plate umpire and signaled for his rookie left fielder to play third base for the first time as a professional. It kept getting weirder from there.
In the top of the eighth, with two on, Bochy called on rookie left-hander Ty Blach to pinch-hit for reliever Josh Osich. He was out of bats on the bench, having used Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson as pinch-hitters and Nick Hundley and Gorkys Hernandez as injury replacements. What did Bochy tell Blach?
"We just want you to get a base hit," he said, smiling. "You don't need to hit it out."
Blach obliged, lining an RBI single up the middle at 100 mph. An inning later, Bochy again had to turn to the rarely seen move. This time it was Jeff Samardzija pinch-hitting for Bryan Morris, and that led to a more urgent conversation between a coach and player. Denard Span was on second and third base coach Phil Nevin got his attention.
"Phil gave me a look like, ‘Come right now.' (Greg) Holland is slow to the plate and we've got Shark up there. Let's try to make something happen," Span said.
Span immediately took off for third, stealing without a throw. When he got there, Nevin told him they would still have to be aggressive. Span took off on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out on a play so close that a long replay was needed. The call was confirmed. Span said he thought it was a coin flip at the plate.
It was the right move, and it very nearly put a lead in Mark Melancon's hands. As with most plays recently, the Giants just came up an inch short.
--- From last night, updates on Buster Posey and Eduardo Nuñez. The news was mostly good, but you have to figure the Giants will make a move or two today. With Posey and Nuñez likely out a couple of days, they're down to two healthy bodies on the bench. The Hunter Strickland suspension should begin any day now, so the bullpen will be short, too.
On that note, it's worth writing here that Joan Gregorio, a starter at Triple-A, was a late scratch Thursday night. Gregorio is on the 40-man roster and could serve as a long reliever this weekend. We'll see if he shows up today.
--- I wrote before the game about how Bochy is baffled by the delay with the Strickland ruling. He expressed his displeasure after the game, saying he was told a decision would be made two days ago.
"This suspension thing is hanging over us," Bochy said. "That's disappointing."
--- Early in the game, Span was robbed of a two-base bloop single by a diving Trevor Story.
"It's the story - pun intended - of how our season has been," Span said of the unlucky play.
--- Matt Moore was rocked, and he now has a 9.24 ERA on the road.
"At times it felt they knew what was coming and that's a bad feeling as a pitcher," Moore said.
He did not think he was tipping, but said he'll review the tape as he always does.
"It just wasn't a good night," Moore said. "I felt I did a decent job of getting ahead and there were some two-strike swings that weren't defensive - they were big swings."
Moore said he'll try to be better about burying change ups and off-speed pitches with two strikes.
"They were floating over the zone," he said.