By Morris Phillips
This was an occasion where incremental improvement appeared quite dramatic.
Yes, the Giants have played slightly better ball since starting the season with just 21 wins in their first 54 contests. But that improvement hasn’t jumped off the sports pages. In fact, while winning 16 of their last 30, attendance at Oracle Park has suffered with huge chunks of empty seats spread across the ballpark.
At San Diego’s Petco Park on Monday, the Giants were a lot more noticeable in a 13-2 rout of the Padres, keyed by Jeff Samardzija’s lengthy outing and backed by three home runs. The Giants have won three of four, and scored double-digit runs in consecutive ballgames. Not weeks-long great, but for the National League’s second worst offense, something different than what we’ve seen to date.
“We’ve had some tough games offensively this year,” said Evan Longoria, who broke out with a home run and a double. “But when we have some offensive explosions, we know how to have some fun. Today was one of those days.”
The Giants built a 7-0 lead, on the strength of a four-run fifth inning, and cruised. In the early onslaught, Longoria doubled in a run, Austin Slater–in his 2019 debut–tripled home Longoria. Then in the fifth, Tyler Austin doubled home a pair, as did Buster Posey.
That gave Samardzija a nice cushion, but the Giants’ starter who suffered in June, didn’t just cruise, he rocked.
Samardzija threw eight innings–becoming the first Giants’ starter to go that deep into a ballgame in 2019–allowing two runs on five hits. After posting an 5.93 ERA in June, the improvement was dramatic. The veteran pitcher was in control throughout, and he gave other Giants’ arms a much needed break.
“We had a lot of guys down there we’re trying to give an extra day’s rest,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He did that and more: eight solid innings. That was huge. Good stuff, good movement.”
The Giants started the season with a bunch of question marks, starting with their outfield, and continuing past their aging infield. Acquisitions of Kevin Pillar, Austin, Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and others after Opening Day have helped the offense show some improvement. That improvement took a leap with the team’s 10-4 rout of the Diamondbacks on Sunday, then the breakout against the Padres on Monday.
San Diego’s Logan Allen won his first two major league starts, but the rookie ran into trouble on Monday. He started fast, posting zeros in the first three frames, but things went south from there. Allen allowed six runs before being pulled in the fifth, after allowing the first two batters to reach.
“I missed a few pitches here and there,” Allen said. “I still feel like I competed my butt off. But the results weren’t there. I felt strong the entire game. I felt I made good pitches. That’s the way it goes. Sometimes you have your ‘A’ stuff and you get beat. Sometimes you have your ‘C’ stuff and you win.”
The Giants continue their three-game trip on Tuesday with Tyler Beede getting the start opposite the Padres’ Matt Strahm.