Jeff Samardzija walked Nick Senzel to start the game, and Joey Votto tripled him home literally before I could get the game turned on. Samardzija managed to strike out the next two batters, but left a slider hanging out over the plate for Yasiel Puig who converted it into a two-run homer to give the Reds and early 3-0 lead.
My sarcastic “Keys to the Game” for tonight was that the Giants needed to get on the board early, and they heard me! With two outs in the bottom of the first, Evan Longoria hit a solo shot. It looked like they might be poised to do more damage, with both Pablo Sandoval (who threw out the first pitch on Let Pablo Pitch bobblehead night) and Mac Williamson getting on base with singles, but Brandon Crawford grounded out to end the inning.
This was somewhat of a theme of the evening, getting runners on base and having nothing to show for it. With one out in the bottom of the second, Steven Duggar singled, followed by what the broadcasters were expecting to be a bunt, but turned into a booming single for Jeff Samardzija, his first hit of the year. Joe Panik lined out to advance Duggar, but Stephen Vogt ended that dream with another ground out.
Samardzija, who actually had a decent outing, ended up getting into and out of a bases loaded jam in the third, followed by a quick, clean fourth inning before being pulled from the game in the bottom of the fourth for a pinch hitter. He pitched four innings, allowed three earned runs, walked three and struck out five with one home run. He probably would have pitched the fifth, but the Giants did their damage in the bottom of the fourth.
Crawford hit a lead-off single, followed by a single from Kevin Pillar that landed just right, between the infield and where the outfield was playing him a little deeper. Crawford was held up at second. Then Steven Duggar came up big again, along his way to going 3-for-4 on the night with a run and two RBI. Duggar got those by clearing the bases here with a triple past a diving Puig who couldn’t quite get a handle on it. Puig got it to the cutoff man with just enough time to try for a play at the plate to get Pillar, but catcher Tucker Barnhart didn’t get the ball in time to make a play and Pillar was safe, tying the game. With one out, Panik hit a sac fly to score Duggar to take a one run lead.
That lead did not last very long. Trevor Gott came in to pitch the top of the fifth inning and immediately gave up a moonshot to the Coke bottle to re-tie the game.
In the bottom of that inning, Sandoval got on base for the second time when Senzel dropped a routine fly ball. Senzel was redeemed later in the inning, however, when Crawford hit a fly ball to him to end the inning, leaving yet another runner in scoring position.
Duggar had a similar experience, hitting what should have been yet another routine fly ball to left field. Senzel, Jesse Winker and Jose Iglesias converged on the ball and none of them caught it. Senzel and Winker collided, with Senzel taking a knee to a part of the body that you never want a knee to collide with. Iglesias had veered away enough to avoid the collision and made the play to keep Duggar at first. (Everyone was ultimately fine, though Winker did come out of the game in later innings.)
With Donovan Solano batting, Duggar took second base on a wild pitch before Solano was walked. During Panik’s at bat, Duggar attempted to steal third, and by rights, I think he did. But he was called out by the third base umpire. The Giants’ challenge was unsuccessful.
This changed everything, because Panik, who had earlier knocked in a run with a sac fly, was now looking at two outs instead of one. And he walked, which would have loaded the bases if Duggar had been called safe (or hadn’t attempted to steal, your opinion may differ from mine). But, as it was, Vogt struck out to end the inning and leave even more runners in scoring position.
In the top of the seventh inning, Suarez hit a lead-off double and got to third on a passed ball by Erik Kratz. In an almost mirror image of the previous inning, Derek Dietrich hit a fly ball to left field where Williamson, Duggar and Crawford converged on the ball, but Williamson, who made a diving attempt, could not get it. No one collided, though, thankfully. But it allowed Suarez to score, giving the Reds the lead they would hold the rest of the night.
After the Giants struck out in order to end the seventh, I think it was pretty clear that there wasn’t much more to be expected from this game. But still, better than a blowout.