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Jeff Samardzija pitches like it’s 2017, Giants win

A Kevin Pillar solo shot was the only run the Giants could muster, but with the pitching, it was enough.

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

I suspect this will not be the last 1-0 game the Giants will play this season. They’ve got the pitching to hold opposing teams to one run or fewer, and they’ve got the offense that makes it easy for opposing pitchers to keep them at one run or fewer. They’re not going to win all of their 1-0 games, but they won tonight.

They took advantage of a scuffling Rockies offense and Jeff Samardzija had his best game since 2017. Kevin Pillar, everyone’s favorite Giant since Monday hit his third home run in the last four games. Buster Posey reached base three times. Joe Panik kept the leadoff hitter from reaching base in the ninth with this diving snag.


For a 1-0 game, there was a lot to appreciate, and most of it was Jeff Samardzija.

His velocity might have been down, but he thrived on the edges of the zone. It helped that he and Posey were able to stretch out the strike zone, but he needed to hit his spots to do that.

Rockies hitters could connect with his slider as they whiffed on a quarter of the ones he threw. Overall, Samardzija racked up 13 whiffs on 41 swings. On the broadcast, Dave Flemming compared Samardzija’s swing and miss numbers to Jacob deGrom which gives you an idea of how good Samardzija was tonight.

I’m not sure that Samardzija will ever sit in the mid-nineties again, but after tonight, he might not have to. It’s still early, but Statcast has tracked him throwing fewer sinkers and more cutters, and tonight at least, the cutter worked beautifully. Rockies hitters put three of his cutters in play, and the exit velocity on those maxed out at 58.5 MPH.

Samardzija ended the night with seven strikeouts, one walk, and three hits over seven scoreless innings. His ERA is 1.62 after his first three starts. Say, that’s deGromesque, too. Might as well just send him the Cy Young now, BBWAA.

Kevin Pillar has four hits in his last four games. He’s driven in 10 runs with those hits. This amount of efficiency is unheard of. Before his grand slam on Monday, Pillar didn’t have a single extra base hit on the season. Now he has four in four days, and he’s tied for the team lead in homers. His third dinger was a good one, too.

That’s not Pete Alonso or Rowdy Tellez territory, but a 414 foot bomb is nothing to sneeze at.

You gotta hand it to the Giants for only winning two of those four games, but Pillar has been the sole offensive contributor for the last two days. His solo homer was the only run of yesterday’s loss to the Padres, and his solo homer was the only run of tonight’s game.

The Giants had fewer opportunities tonight than they had last night. Belt led off the fourth with a double but got stranded. Pablo Sandoval led off the second with a doub—

Oh, nevermind.

The Giants made some noise in the eighth but were derailed by a phantom foul tip called against Brandon Belt. It would have put runners at second and third with nobody out. I can’t that things would have turned out exactly the same, but maybe Harrison Musgrave would have gone to something else on 3-2. Maybe Belt walks instead. Maybe with the infield pulled in, Crawford’s grounder gets through and he continues his hitting streak.

The Giants still haven’t scored in the first inning. Coming into the game, the Giants had only collected two hits in the first inning, and they doubled that tonight. Maybe the Giants could have brought a run across the plate if Steven Duggar hadn’t been thrown out trying to steal. He picked a good pitch to try to steal on—a breaking ball in the dirt—he just didn’t get a good jump. Jon Gray was already striding toward home by the time Duggar took off. Even then, it took a perfect throw from Tony Wolters to get him.

There is one other team that has yet to score a run in their first frame. Can you guess who it is?

It’s the Rockies! The Rockies have played most of their games at Coors Field and they have Nolan Arenado and possibly Trevor Story taking an AB their first time up, and yet, they haven’t scored a run. Not being able to score early allows for things like this to happen.

That was after the second inning. Without Daniel Murphy and David Dahl, the Rockies offense is clearly worse than the Giants. Yes, they have Arenado and Story. Charlie Blackmon is still pretty good. That’s pretty much it. Half of their starters are replacement level or worse and that’s before getting to the bench.

It’s good for the Giants because maybe they’ll actually win a game at Coors Field this year, but the Rockies had the best chance of thwarting the Dodgers. I don’t know if they’re going to even come close if they have Raimel Tapia hitting second.

I mentioned this in passing earlier, but Crawford’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end tonight. If you didn’t notice that Crawford was on a hitting streak, it’s probably because it was the kind of hitting streak where he just goes 1-for-4 every day. People noticed Pillar’s hitting streak because that’s been helping the Giants win sort of. Still, hitting streaks are fun, and this one was snuffed out before it truly had a chance to blossom. Fare thee well, hitting streak.