Giants rebound in Milwaukee, Samardzija picks up a rare win

June 6, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

AP17157094018428

Brewers’ Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips nearly collide as Phillips can’t catch a ball hit by San Francisco Giants’ Eduardo Nunez during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, June 5, 2017, in Milwaukee. The play was ruled an error. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By Morris Phillips

This time Jeff Samardzija found gold at the end of his starting assignment.

The Giants’ pricey, free agent acquisition from 2016 actually began to turn around his 2017 season in May, a month in which the Shark struck out 49 batters, walked just one, but only won once in six starts. Samardzija got little offensive support in St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles, and at AT&T Park against the Nationals he got picked apart by the National League’s highest scoring offense.  Throw in a lousy first two innings at Citi Field against the Mets, and Samardzija’s month could be characterized by quality opponents, mostly on the road, along with rough patches in games in which he pitched well when evaluated in their entirety.

But on Monday in Milwaukee, Samardzija pitched well throughout, and the San Francisco offense finally checked in during the eighth and ninth innings, allowing the Giants to register a rare road win, 7-2 over the Brewers.

“He had good command, good velocity,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Great changeup, cutter too. He had it all going on in a place he hasn’t had much success.”

Samardzija was winless across the more than 45 innings he had thrown at Miller Park in his career, and the Giants had dropped six of eight on the road.  Moreover, their sobering weekend in Philadelphia was another reminder that their season is rapidly slipping away.

But unlike the team’s season, Samardzija’s has life, thanks to some adjustments suggested by pitching coach Dave Righetti that have the pitcher displaying greater command of all his pitches.

“I’ve just been staying back real well and haven’t been drifting down off the rubber until it’s time,” Samardzija said. “That’s been the big adjustment me and (Righetti) made: just letting everything happen on the rubber. After that, it’s just executing the pitch.”

Samardzija coughed up two runs early, but then retired 19 batters in a row at one point, against a surprising Milwaukee team that has a winning record after 58 games, and probably expected to be more scathing than the two extra base hits they managed off Samardzija.

After trailing 2-0 after one inning, Samardzija was still around when the Giants came up with a pair of runs in the eighth, breaking a 2-2 tie. The righthander escaped trouble in the seventh by striking out Nick Franklin and Jonathan Villar who came to the plate with two runners aboard.  Throughout, the Brewers had trouble squaring up Samardzija’s cut fastball.

In the eighth, pinch hitter Aaron Hill doubled home a pair of runs. Then in the ninth, Brandon Belt singled home Kelby Tomlinson, and Buster Posey and Hunter Pence came up with run-scoring ground outs. Milwaukee’s Brett Phillips, in his major league debut, dropped a fly ball in right field, extending the inning for the Giants.

Pence rejoined the lineup after a month-long absence due to injury, giving the Giants familiarity in their starting nine that had been long missing.  Eduardo Nunez, along with Belt and Posey, contributed a pair of hits each to an 11-hit attack.

On Tuesday, the Giants look to string together wins behind Matt Cain, who will be opposed by the Brewers Matt Anderson.

 

 

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