SAN FRANCISCO -- Responding to the challenge of replacing closer Brian Wilson, Santiago Casilla punctuated the Giants' 4-2 victory Tuesday over Philadelphia by converting his first save opportunity since the three-time All-Star closer was sidelined. Casilla coaxed two groundouts to open the ninth inning before Juan Pierre singled softly to left field. Shane Victorino hit a low liner that shortstop Brandon Crawford dove for and caught on one hop before straightening and throwing to first for the final out. "He had great stuff," manager Bruce Bochy said of Casilla, whose fastball was recorded at 95 mph as he threw seven strikes in 10 pitches. "He pounded the strike zone. That's what you want to see from the closer."
Bochy had said that Casilla would be "first in line" to attempt to preserve late-inning leads, ahead of Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. Casilla went 6-for-6 in converting save opportunities after Wilson was sidelined with elbow problems last year. Bochy also reiterated that he still might use Casilla, Romo and Lopez in various combinations to secure the game's final six outs. "The best man for that situation gets called upon and Bochy's the one to decide this," Romo said. Few statistical differences separate the trio. The platoon splits are what you might expect. Right-handers Casilla and Romo dominate right-handed hitters, who hit .155 and .150 off them last year, respectively. The left-handed Lopez was similarly tough against left-handed batters (.163). But Casilla fared better than Lopez when the hitter had the platoon advantage. Lopez allowed right-handed batters to hit .276 off him a year ago, while Casilla limited lefties to a .234 average. Romo also fared well against left-handed hitters, who batted .229 off him last year. But his history of minor arm ailments prevents him from fitting the profile of an ideal closer.