Jeff Samardzija was so close to getting out of the first inning without allowing a run. If only he hadn’t kicked at that Wilmer Difo grounder, it would have been a routine out on a playable ball up the middle, and Difo wouldn’t have been on base to score the game’s first run. But even after that, he could have gotten out of the inning only allowing one run. If only Gregor Blanco had gotten a better jump on that Andrew Stevenson double, it would have been a completely unremarkable, inning ending catch on a fly ball. And in the bottom of the inning, if only Brandon Belt’s first pitch foul ball into McCovey Cove had been a little more towards center field, then it’s a 3-2 game after the first instead of a 3-0 game, and who knows how the game would have shaped up from there?
But none of that happened.
In the top of the second, Duane Kuiper described the game as feeling like a Spring Training outing, and that’s about right. Samardzija threw a lot of pitches, many of them out of the strike zone, and just never looked sharp. It’s not that he didn’t have his good stuff, but his good stuff was buried under layers of rust, so when things started going wrong in the most common baseball way, it was just that much harder to work through it. He was able to do it in the second and third innings, getting through two-on jams without allowing any runs either time, but with two guys on in the fourth, Samardzija threw a 92 MPH fastball right down the middle to Matt Adams, and a 3-1 game became a 6-1 non-game.
And boy, that was more than enough for Max Scherzer. It’s never going to be easy to score against Scherzer, and with Evan Longoria and Buster Posey both having scheduled off days, and it’s-taking-a-lot-of-self-restraint-to-not-call-him-a-savior Mac Williamson still feeling the effects of crashing into the wall last night, it was much more not easy than usual. Scherzer was his typically great self, and the makeshift Giants lineup just wasn’t a match for him.
The game got exponentially worse as it went along with the likes of Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin helping to pile on their poor teammates with walks and troubling pitch location. The Nationals have been gutted by injury, but their backups were more than capable of handling everything the Giants threw at them. You could say that the Giants were mailing it in, but that might be an unnecessary jab at the fine people of the United States Postal Service.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, there are two of them. One is that the Giants already had the series won, so this sweep avoiding game was just one bad game against a talented team, instead of the symbol of an ongoing disaster of a season. The other is that with the off day tomorrow, the Giants will be well rested for the Dodgers. And the bullpen got some work in! Don’t, uh, look at how they did, but they got some work in, so they won’t be rusty. Yep, silver linings all over the place.