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Giants extend unprecedented winning streak with 8-3 win over Reds

Jeff Samardzija was above average and the Giants' offense clobbered the meager Reds pitch offerings to win their third game in a row for the first time in 2017.

Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Giants won easily today and that’s a very odd sentence to write, because it didn’t seem like it was one any of us would ever read or ever think again, so long as this current permutation of the Giants existed, limping aimlessly through a 162-game gauntlet of garbage. And yet they scored 8 and won their third series of the season and they did it against a team that has given them a lot of trouble home and away over the past 7-8 years. The Giants have looked like better since Brandon Crawford’s return and especially since the soul-sucking 17-inning game. Are they back?

And look, we can’t really know what the players’ moms told them before today’s game, but if we were to guess — based solely on the likelihood that a mother loves her son who plays professional baseball — those words of encouragement might’ve looked a little something like this:

DENARD SPAN’S MOM: Denard, it’s HIP to be good. Swing that bat hard and good things will happen.

DENARD SPAN: Mom, did you just make a joke at the expense of my hip?

DENARD SPAN’S MOM: Don’t backtalk your mother, Denard. Swing the bat hard.

DENARD SPAN: Okay, Mom. Sure thing!


BRANDON BELT’S MOM: {assorted giraffe noises} Haha, just kidding, son. Go hit a dinger!

BRANDON BELT: You got it, Mom!


BUSTER POSEY’S MOM: I just want you to know that giving birth to Jesus Christ was only the second greatest birth of mine, Gerald.

BUSTER POSEY: Wow, Mom, thank you ever so much! You are kind!

BUSTER POSEY’S MOM: I speak the truth. Please continue to mash.

BUSTER POSEY: Thy will be done!


JOE PANIK’S MOM: {after hearing Buster Posey’s Mom’s speech} What she said.



BRANDON CRAWFORD’S MOM: Just remember: they need you more than you need them, which we all agree is a little bizarre, but then again, what else can we do about it?

BRANDON CRAWFORD: Agreed. Our lifelong Giants fandom means we have seen many peculiar things in the franchise’s history, but the fact that the team needs me, a solid-hitting but usually spectacular defensive shortstop, in order to succeed, especially when it’s supposed to be built around dominant starting pitching, is slightly odd.

BRANDON CRAWFORD’S MOM: That’s... Brandon, that’s literally what I just said.


EDUARDO NUNEZ’S MOM: Third base, short stop, left field... I’ll love you no matter what position you play.

EDUARDO NUNEZ: Thanks, mom. I love you, too.

EDUARDO NUNEZ’S MOM: Second base, catcher, center field... it doesn’t matter. I’ll love you no matter what.

EDUARDO NUNEZ: I... thank you.

EDUARDO NUNEZ’S MOM: What else... right field, pitcher, relief pitcher... same deal. I’ll love you no matter where they play you.


EDUARDON NUNEZ’S MOM: Just... you know... do something good out there. For me?


JUSTIN RUGGIANO’S MOM: Wow, I can’t believe you, Justin, a 57-year old grown man, is still playing pabstball. Do your friends know you live in your mother’s basement?


JUSTIN RUGGIANO’S MOM: That’s nice, dear. Don’t forget to do your laundry.

Jeff Samardzija had a really nice, solid start today and one that comes in a series of rather excellent starts. Here’s the last three appearances by the usually unreliable Shark:

21.2 IP 22 H 9 ER 0 BB 28 K 1 HR

That’s an extremely small sample, but it comes against the actual offensive juggernauts of the Dodgers, Mets, and Reds and there he is mostly handling them. I’m not going to pretend that Jeff Samardzija is an ace or underrated, but I will say that the advanced metrics suggest he’s been a bit unlucky, even if we know that any luck credits he gets will be wiped away by a more typical Samardzija outing, something like 5.2 IP 8 H 4 ER 3 BB 9 K 2 HR.

But let’s take a look at the Samardzija Scale, my perfectly scientific way of measuring a Jeff Samardzija start. This should come in handy the rest of the decade, because he’s not going anywhere:

(1) Jeff Samardzija is annihilated. Literally annihilated right there on the field.

(2) Jeff Samardzija is an unstoppable power pitcher for 5 or 6 innings and then he gives up 4 runs on 2 home runs and that’s all she wrote.

(3) Jeff Samardzija gives up 2 home runs amidst loud, loud contact and the Giants’ offense tricks us into thinking they’ve got a shot but they still lose 6-4.

(4) Jeff Samardzija pitches 8 scoreless innings, Mark Melancon blows the save.

(5) Jeff Samardzija pitches a shutout and the Giants win the game, but it doesn’t matter because the Giants are still the worst team in the league.

I’m open to improving this scale a bit, as 4 and 5 are pretty close, but today looks like it was a 2.0 on the Samardzija scale. He didn’t put the Giants in a position to lose and that’s in large part because the Giants offense gave him a 7-0 early in the game.

He has the stuff. We know that. And today he was using his two-seamer and curveball both effectively and confidently. I submit that it’s more important to have confidence in a pitch than for it to be effective (though, of course, for tangible results that’s practically *as* important) because confidence means you won’t get away from something that’s not necessarily working right away. Pitching predictably is the easiest way to pitch disastrously, and we’ve perhaps seen that several times over the past 7+ months of Samardzija’s tenure. But not today, and what a relief.

In my rapidly advancing age, I have come to appreciate nuggets like this, despite the overall record:

Seriously, folks. Life is short. We watch baseball to be entertained. The best part of following the same team year in and year out is the accumulation of knowledge that comes with the scrutiny. And the little factoids or nuggets of trivia or “I was not aware of that” moments such as this. It is good that the Giants’ equipment manager is prepared for the eventuality where the LOOGY must stay in the game to hit, if only because it provided us all with a quick smile.

Brandon Belt homered in the last three games of the series and he’s on pace to hit close to 30 home runs in 2017. Of course, we know he won’t get close to 30 because (1) the Giants will never again have a 30+ home run hitter and (2) he’s Brandon Belt, prone to power droughts.

Now, I am in now way interested in bashing Belt. In fact, I have started and finished numerous essays attempting to address the gormless Bay Area sports pundits impotently lobbing whine bursts at one of the Giants’ best players, but life is short (and I haven’t figured out that winning hook) and they’re just gonna keep rehashing this same dumb line every year no matter what happens, so I’ve yet to finish said essays. What I am simply saying is: the Giants don’t have 30 home run hitters. It doesn’t happen.

It will be nice to see Brandon Belt try to get close to it, though. If he can keep this pace to some degree and Buster Posey can somehow remain a top-3 hitter in the National League (per batting average) and the rest of the offense fluctuates between career norms and hot streaks, then maybe, just maybe, this team might have a chance to reach .500. That would be quite the turnaround.

Eduardo Nunez made a great catch on a bullet of a line drive off Adam Duvall’s bat in the 3rd... Gorkys Hernandez made a great sliding catch on a line shot off Joey Votto’s bat that was slicing away from him in the 8th, so... left field is solved now? Everything’s fine? It’s amazing what winning does. It definitely helps take the sting out of the trouble spots and even helps you forget to some degree that the problem even exists.

Still, Nunez is to be commended for playing solid defense no matter where he’s thrown. He is definitely a valuable utility player. Did you hear me, teams in playoff contention? EDUARDO NUNEZ HAS VALUE.

Christian Arroyo will have his ups and downs and you just have to hope that the downs come when the other Giants are hitting just fine and the pitching is holding it together. On the other hand, his glove isn’t taking any innings off. He’s been a relief in a sea of agony this season. Still need a better nickname for this dude.

They’re 15-24 now. {squints} That doesn’t look so terrible. Now to keep the good times rolling against {squints} the Dod gods? The Dogers? The Dodge - Dodgers? My goodness. Hahahahaha. It’s never easy.

Happy Mother’s Day!