I don’t know if there’s an official power ranking to do of the starting pitchers that I look forward to watching, but there are currently three. Maybe two-and-a-half until Johnny Cueto rights the ship, but I still look forward to his starts. The other two are Ty Blach and Jeff Samardzija. And if there’s a winner or a top spot to this ranking, Samardzija is an easy no. 1 right now.
Samardzija walked a guy, so we should probably check on him to see if he’s alright, but he also struck out six, keeping up a pretty sweet ratio. On April 23, he walked three batters against the Rockies at Coors field. Since then, he’s walked two in 61 innings, with 70 strikeouts. I love watching pitchers with that skill set. It’s a combination of command and power that’s ultra rare, even in this high-strikeout era. It’s so crisp and compelling.
At the same time, Samardzija leads the National League in losses. When he pitches, the Giants lose far more often than they win.
And yet, he’s the pitcher I look forward to the most.
This is the perfect description of how the 2017 season is going. Even when it’s good, it’s the absolute worst. Samardzija gave up a solo homer with two outs, and an inning later, he gave up a two-run homer with two outs. The solo homer came with two strikes, too. All he needed was one more swing, one more pop-up, one more grounder to second. He could not get them.
The Giants needed one fewer swing, one fewer pop-up, one fewer grounder to second. They did not get them. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and it felt like they were 0-for-8. The Giants got 10 runners against Jose Berrios in 5⅓ innings, including a home run. The Twins got five runners against Samardzija in six innings, but there were two home runs. You’ll never believe it, but the Giants’ strategy of “get a couple runners on and hope that someone will do something” failed yet again.
This team is so bad. It took a while to find the right words, but there they are. They’re just so very bad. Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence were 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, and they left a combined nine runners on base. Those two left more runners on base than the entire Twins team did for the whole game. Crawford’s OPS fell to .680, far below his standards. Pence’s OPS fell to .579, far below Neifi Perez’s standards.
That was the story of the game, really. Two players who were supposed to be good this season, who have been good in the past, were not. And when they aren’t good, that means they’re bad. Like the team. Which is bad. I am not even bothering with a thesaurus at this point. Don’t be bad. Be good. Be less bad. Don’t be so bad.
Buster Posey had a hit and a walk, because he usually does, and Brandon Belt’s home run went ker-sploonk, as his best ones tend to do. Austin Slater had two hits, including one that came on an 0-2 count. Other than that, and other than Samardzija pitching well enough to win for a normal team, everyone else was playing just poorly enough to lose. There were two pinch-hitting opportunities in high-leverage situations, and the Giants turned those into three outs. I’m actually impressed by that one.
I think my favorite part was when the Twins reliever with a 7.17 ERA who’s allowed 32 runners in 21 innings came into a one-run game, and calmly set the Giants down in order with nine pitches (eight strikes).
This is a bad team, and yet I’ll still look forward to Jeff Samardzija’s next start. He’s exceeded expectations, and he’s proven the front office correct when it comes to AT&T Park being a perfect match for his skill set.
If only he had a lineup that could support him.
This is the part where I usually put notes and tidbits that didn’t quite fit in with the first section, the interesting nuggets that deserve a little more attention.