Giles displays grit, guile when stakes are high

May 18th, 2016

CHICAGO -- That was the Ken Giles the Astros traded for in December.

The hard-throwing reliever wriggled his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning of the Astros' 6-5 win on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field by striking out Jimmy Rollins and Jose Abreu, both swinging, for his seventh scoreless outing in his last eight appearances.

"Giles came in, and he was as electric as he's been as an Astro," manager A.J. Hinch said.

Giles struck out Rollins on a 99-mph fastball and Abreu on an 86-mph slider, stranding three runners on base. Starter Dallas Keuchel had been pulled in favor of Giles after he walked the bases loaded with one out.

"I just went out there with a goal to help pick up a teammate, help Keuchel out right there," Giles said. "All I wanted to do was get those outs and make sure to stay within myself, stay true to my mechanics and not try to do too much."

Giles, who struggled mightily in April, has been stellar in May. In eight appearances this month, he has a 3.18 ERA in 5 2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts. Hinch had taken him out of high-leverage situations earlier in the month but is showing more and more trust in him. That figures to continue.

"I can't put him in any [more of a] high-leverage situation than bases loaded against their two- and three-hole hitters," Hinch said. "I've never lost faith in him. Some of his situations have been different over the last week and a half, two weeks or so, but we're not in a situation [where] we can soften many entrances. These guys have to pitch when they've got to pitch. Giles never lost his confidence. If this doesn't prove tonight that I'm willing to use him with the game on the line, then I don't know another situation that's tougher."

For Giles, pitching in stressful situations again is like riding a bike.

"It felt comfortable," Giles said. "I didn't feel like I was ever gone from the situation. Being able to get back in these situations feels comfortable and ... in my comfort zone, so I'm really happy about that."