Giles overcomes nerves for save in new role
Phillies' anointed closer earns second career save, first since replacing traded Papelbon
TORONTO -- Ken Giles seemed destined to pitch the ninth inning in a save situation Tuesday night, right?
Less than an hour after the Phillies announced they had traded Jonathan Papelbon and cash considerations to the Nationals for Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta, Giles picked up the save in a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
"You know, the ball always seems to find you when you go in a game," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "I was talking to [pitching coach Bob] McClure, and he said, 'The ball is going to find Giles tonight.' The baseball gods work that way."
Giles allowed a leadoff single to Edwin Encarnacion before retiring the next three batters for the second save of his career, but his first as the full-time replacement for Papelbon, who ended his tumultuous three-plus seasons with the Phillies as the franchise's all-time leader with 123 saves.
"I can't thank him enough for guiding me through the way of the closer," Giles said about Papelbon. "I think I'm going to be a great closer."
The Phillies hope so. They need one.
But while Giles certainly is confident in his abilities, he could not help but feel nervous Tuesday. It is one thing to be a setup man picking up a save for Papelbon late last season, when Papelbon was suspended for an indecent gesture after blowing a save. It is something entirely different to save a game as the man.
"Yeah, I started to get a little nervous," Giles said. "The first one is the hardest. And even though I did it last year, I was way more nervous in this one, because I was the guy, I needed to get three outs to conserve that win. The eighth inning is way different. All I have to do is conserve that lead or come out with the tie. Closer, you just want to go 1-2-3, shut them down, let's go home."
Papelbon had made his feelings known about his desire to be traded for more than a year. He said he enjoyed playing the role of villain in Philadelphia. He obviously had his detractors, but pitchers in the bullpen generally seemed to enjoy Papelbon's mentorship over the years.
Giles is included in that group.
"Pap was guiding me and teaching me the way," he said. "I knew he wanted to be traded, and I knew it was only a matter of time. It was just to the point of when he was going to get traded and when he felt like he was satisfied with where he wanted to go and stuff like that. I wish him all the best of luck, and hopefully we'll all cross paths once again and I'll see how he's doing then.
"But being a closer feels great, it's a once in a lifetime dream for me to be a closer. Now it's my opportunity to show what I've got."
So what's his intro music going to be?
"I guess we'll wait and see."