Samardzija sharp, Giants capture series with 2-1 win over the Pirates

July 27, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants


Pittsburgh Pirates’ Josh Bell, left, reacts after striking out swinging against San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija in the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in San Francisco. At right is Giants catcher Buster Posey. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Even if the victories are small ones, the Giants have to relish them. They’re all they have.

On Wednesday, the Giants snuck by the Pirates, 2-1, and captured the series, the second time they won a series on this homestand. And yes, a 5-5 homestand is an accomplishment for a team that hit just two home runs in the 10 games, and has a losing record at home (22-29).

And they got Jeff Samardzija in the win column, which helps makes sense of his confusing season in which he’s lost 11 games but been consistent, maddening and sharp as well. This was one of his best outings, the eighth time in 21 starts that he did not allow a home run. When Samardzija does allow at least one homer, he’s 1-9. When he strikes out at least eight batters, he’s 3-5. Samardzija struck out eight on Wednesday.

“All you want to do is keep your team in the game, eat up innings for the bullpen and if you get a lead, protect it,” Samardzija said.

In this case, Samardzija protected the lead before he got it with his defense in the second inning. After Adam Frazier tied it with his RBI double, Jordy Mercer was intentionally walked to load the bases, bringing up Pirates’ starter Trevor Williams. Williams’ chopper to Samardzija’s right was grabbed by the pitcher barehanded who then wheeled and threw home to force out Francisco Cervelli attempting to score the go-ahead run.

“I was just doing the only option I had,” Samardzija said. “I didn’t think I had a chance at first.”

“At one time he was the best wide receiver in Chicago, and that might include the pro team,” Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle said of Samardzija’s seamless putout. “It doesn’t surprise me when he makes a play like that.”

Samardzija went on to retire 13 hitters consecutively and allow four hits on the afternoon, giving the Giants rare checks in the pitching and defensive categories. Given that, the San Francisco offense could afford to be spotty, and it was due to Williams. But the 1-1 tie game turned in the seventh inning when leftfielder Sterling Marte lost Brandon Belt’s pop up in the sun.

Rookie pinch-hitter Miguel Gomez doubled ahead of Belt and scored the go-ahead run on Belt’s fly ball, which was ruled a double.

Relievers Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson combined to record the final six outs, and the Giants recorded just their sixth win all season when they only score one or two runs. Manager Bruce Bochy rolled his most veteran lineup (minus the just departed Eduardo Nunez, traded to Boston) for the third straight game and picked up a win, on the rare day where the team’s usual, lack of offense didn’t result in another loss.

After an off-day the Giants open a three-game set against the Dodgers in Los Angeles with Matt Moore on the mound opposite Alex Wood, who is 11-1 for the Dodgers.


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