Rude Guests: Nats rob Giants’ momentum with rout, then rush off to the airport

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By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–From the Giants’ perspective, finally achieving a .500 record after an adversity-filled start to the season would have been a nice storyline.

But it didn’t happen, so maybe focusing on April 25–today’s date–and the still early stage of the long season will temper their momentary disappointments.

Either way, for the 25 guys trudging out the Giants’ clubhouse on Wednesday, perspective will be needed. 15-2 defeats aren’t easy to swallow.

The Nationals pounded out 18 hits, led 10-0 in the sixth, amply supporting starter Max Scherzer, who went six innings, and earned themselves a relaxed flight back to the Nation’s Capital.

“One of those games that started off rough and gradually got worse,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We gave up crooked numbers. That’s not going to work.”

The Giants still covet a 14-14 record after Sunday, their way of standing up to a brutal stretch to start the season that ends Sunday against the Dodgers. But after getting blown out they’ll have to regain their recent form immediately if they want to grab three of four from LA.

Concerning issues cropped up before the first pitch, and multipled in the game’s initial pitches. First, Buster Posey was given a day off to rest, then hard-swinging Mac Williamson was scratched due to a sore neck, a result of his sliding catch attempt on Tuesday that sent him tumbling into the low wall bordering the left field line bullpen. Giants starter Jeff Samardzija looked good in his season debut over the weekend at Anaheim, but lugged an 0-5 record against Washington in his last five starts to the mound Wednesday. That was essentially the opposite of Scherzer, who dominated the Giants in his last two appearances, striking out a combined 21 batters.

Then the game commenced, and the Nats took a quick 3-0 lead as Samardzija gave up three hits surrounding his wild pitch with Bryce Harper at bat.

The traffic on the basepaths never subsided after that. Samardzija escaped trouble in the second and third, then got torched in the fourth, allowing three more runs. Pierce Johnson gave up a pair of runs, then Josh Osich allowed four. Throughout, the last out of an inning became slippier than a piglet in soapy, bath water. In all, four relievers threw over 100 pitches, that after Samardzija threw 86 and couldn’t finish the fourth inning. Johnson allowed as many runs as he gave up in eight, previous outings.

“You’re looking for someone to put up a zero and we had a hard time doing that,” Bochy admitted.

And the AT&T Park crowd of 35,126 squirmed, then left, figuring they could realize greater entertainment value sitting in afternoon commute traffic. The game somehow ended after three hours, 13 minutes, partly attributable to Scherzer who struck out 10, and closed doors immediately after they opened.

“You just want to go out there and put up zeros to get the offense back in and have everybody run to the bat rack. That’s what makes it fun,” said Scherzer.

Andrew McCutchen (hitting .205), Brandon Crawford (.200) and Austin Jackson (.213) combined to strike out five times against the Nationals ace. Evan Longoria (.222) was spelled at third base by Pablo Sandoval. In a seventh inning, pinch-hitting role, Longoria faced reliever Trevor Gott and struck out swinging.

All four will likely be back in the starting lineup Friday to face Los Angeles’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. But Ryu’s undefeated with an ERA under two. The Giants won’t face Clayton Kershaw this weekend, and the Dodgers haven’t announced a starter for Saturday’s first game, but trouble could arise regardless for the Giants if the dead spots in their lineup don’t respond.

Derek Holland opposes Ryu. He’s yet to defeat the Dodgers, but with just two, previous starts, it’s a limited sample.

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