SAN FRANCISCO – Buster Posey has known for weeks, possibly months, that he would need a cortisone shot in his inflamed hip following the final game of the first half. After making his sixth All-Star team Sunday, he admitted that he needed rest and rehab more than a night with the game’s biggest stars.
Posey caught 11 innings in Monday’s win and then helped six Giants pitchers maneuver their way through the first 10 innings of a Wednesday marathon with the Cubs.
He could be forgiven, then, for mental or physical fatigue. Instead, Posey raised his game a notch in extra innings. A single off the wall in the 13th clinched a 5-4 win for the Giants, but it was something Posey did an hour earlier that so impressed a rookie teammate who knows a thing or two about catching.
When Dereck Rodriguez entered in the 11th for an emergency relief appearance, he tried to keep it business as usual. Posey had other ideas. The veteran catcher started changing Rodriguez’s usual pitch sequencing. After hours of grueling baseball, Posey kept finding new ways for Rodriguez to attack hitters. In one spot, against pinch-hitter Willson Contreras, an All-Star, Posey called for an outside changeup, a pitch Rodriguez never features. Contreras struck out.
“Those were pitches I hadn’t thrown all year,” Rodriguez said.
After working with Rodriguez to get through the 11th, 12th and 13th, Posey slammed a 97 MPH fastball from a right-hander making his debut off the bricks. The walk-off was the eighth of the season for the Giants and gave them a needed series win over the Cubs.
“He’s just a whole different animal,” Rodriguez said. “Buster is a future Hall of Famer. What do you expect?”
The win came after plenty of frustrating moments – the lineup left 15 on base – but validated a lot of good work. Johnny Cueto showed improvement. Chase d’Arnaud hit a lead-off homer as the lineup finally got to a lefty starter. The bullpen was dominant, capped by Rodriguez, who threw three shutout frames to put an exclamation point on his breakout first half.
The right-hander’s lengthy day means Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suárez will face the A’s this weekend. Posey should catch at least two of the games, and then when it’s over, a needle will be put in his hip.
It’s been a countdown to cortisone, but Posey said that hasn’t felt particularly weird about the situation. He has a job to do, no matter how long it might take on any given day.
“It’s something I’ve been dealing with throughout the year,” Posey said. “It’s not anything new.”