Runzler's debut comes with a test
Giants lefty records critical strikeout in first appearance
MILWAUKEE -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday's game -- a 3-2 San Francisco win over Milwaukee -- that he wouldn't necessarily put left-handed reliever Dan Runzler in an easy situation for his Major League debut. The skipper wasn't kidding.
"I'll be honest, I didn't want to put him in that situation," Bochy said after Runzler appeared in a critical juncture mere hours later. "In the sixth inning, he had to be the guy, and it's pretty impressive what he did. With the game on the line, he got the strikeout."
Runzler wasn't facing a premier lefty slugger like Prince Fielder, Chase Utley or Ryan Howard -- names Bochy implied as potential candidates for Runzler's first test. Instead, it was left-handed-hitting outfielder Jody Gerut, but a runner was standing on second base with two outs in a 2-2 game.
The 24-year-old lefty threw three fastballs, all strikes. Inning over.
"Three pitches -- I guess it's that easy," closer Brian Wilson joked after he hammered down the victory. "I like to see that -- coming in and attacking the hitters. Don't worry about the situation."
Runzler said he did have the breaking pitches to accompany his 95-mph fastball, but he'll have to use those another time.
"That's what [catcher] Bengie [Molina] called," Runzler said of the fastball. "Obviously, Bengie knows the hitters well, and he wanted me to throw a fastball there. I definitely trust whatever he calls."
Runzler has done anything but follow the traditional game plan in his ascent to the big leagues. A ninth-round Draft pick in 2007, Runzler opened this season has an unheralded fringe prospect at Class A Augusta, but he has seen every level of the Minor League system since. After layovers in High Class A San Jose and Double-A Connecticut, he posted a 0.76 ERA at Triple-A Fresno and earned a September callup.
"It was good getting my feet wet," Runzler said. "I just wanted to concentrate and do what I do, trying to stay as calm as possible and get the out. They were cracking jokes and smiling [before the at-bat]. It definitely helped a lot.
"It hit me when I came in the dugout. It was a whole lot of fun."
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.