There’s a sports bar in downtown Portland that has a ticker running along the windows to display scores and news from around the wide, wide world of sports. As I happened to ride past on my bike today, the fragment crawling along the ticker read, “Samardzija has allowed 11 first-inning runs…” The Giants and especially Jeff Samardzija’s struggles in the first inning have become such an oddity that this bar needs to broadcast this information to people walking by who probably couldn’t care less about baseball. If anyone but me took the time to read that, their only impression of 2019 Samardzija is that he’s very bad.
When Samardzija made it through the first inning without allowing a run, it seemed like Samardzija was primed for a big night. What does that ticker know anyway? Samardzija cruised through the first five innings and never got into trouble. The only damage done against him was a David Peralta solo homer, and if you’re going to give up a run against the Diamondbacks, that’s the way to do it.
Even though Samardzija entered the fifth inning with fewer than 60 pitches thrown, the third time through the order got him. He issued a walk to Jarrod Dyson who is the absolute last person you want to walk. For one, Dyson doesn’t have the reputation of punishing challenge pitches. He’s hitting well this year, but you’d still rather see Samardzija make him hit something there. For another, if you put him on, he’s going to steal which is exactly what he did.
The bench elected to intentionally walk David Peralta to establish a force at any base and let Samardzija have the platoon advantage against Adam Jones, you know, the guy the Giants had no interest in signing this offseason. Jones doubled in a run and knocked Samardzija out of the game because of course he did.
It’s not Samardzija’s fault the Giants lost. Three runs in 5 1/3 innings isn’t that bad even if it comes with zero strikeouts. There isn’t anything that Samardzija could have done on the mound to help the team not get shutout.
Meanwhile, the Giants couldn’t touch Kelly because he’s a struggling rookie they had never seen before and those kinds of pitchers eat the Giants alive.
This was not the Giants’ night. That much was evident in the seventh inning when Dyson was granted first base for bunting a ball foul. The pitch hit his finger, but he never attempted to bring the bat back. When Bochy predictably argued the call, he got ejected for the third time this year. Bochy’s argument couldn’t put Dyson back at the plate nor could it save Derek Holland’s ERA. After giving up four runs in the seventh, Holland is up to a 7.36 ERA on the year, but it’s okay. FIP says he should only be a 6.53.
Whenever a player returns from the concussion list, there’s always the worry that they won’t be the same. Concussions can adversely affect vision and for a profession requiring supernatural sight and reaction times, it can make things nigh impossible for a hitter.
When Buster Posey stepped up to the plate for the first time since coming off the concussion list, there was the sense that whatever he did would indicate how his recovery had gone. It was like Groundhog’s Day, if Posey roped a double, we’d get an early return to form. If Posey struggled, there’d be six more weeks of dizziness and nausea and sensitivity to light etc.
It looked like Posey’s swing was out of whack initially. He was reaching at balls over the heart of the plate. Fortunately, Christian Walker borked a popup giving Posey a second chance, and Posey squared up the next pitch. While it was nice for David Peralta to also bork the liner, it was encouraging enough to see Posey turn on a pitch and hit it hard.
In his next at-bat, Posey hit a ball with home run distance but barely hooked it foul. He threaded a ground ball through the right side for a single in the sixth. He made a perfect throw which would have caught Jarrod Dyson stealing if Dyson weren’t already three-quarters of the way to second base by the time Posey got the ball.
Posey will be fine.
In Joe Panik’s second at-bat, he extended his on-base streak to 15 games with a ground rule double. His longest such streak is 23 games which he did back in 2015, so he has a bit to go before he sets a new personal best, but he owns the longest streak by a Giant this year.
I generally prefer on-base streaks to hitting streaks even if everyone remembers Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, but no one remembers Ted Williams’ 84-game on-base streak. It’s possible to be too good a hitter to compile a hitting streak that anyone will pay attention to. Case in point, the longest hitting streak Barry Bonds ever put together was a measly 15 games. Eugenio Velez had a longer hitting streak than that. However, Bonds had two separate on-base streaks of 56 games or more. Speaking of which, the six longest on-base streaks by a Giant since 1981 create a fun list:
1. Barry Bonds, 57 games
2. Barry Bonds, 56 games
3. Barry Bonds, 41 games
4. Barry Bonds, 39 games
5. Dan Gladden, 39 games
6. Barry Bonds, 38 games
Damn, Dan Gladden was good.
Every team is wearing army camo hats for Armed Forces Weekend, and this has had some unfortunate unintentional consequences for the Diamondbacks. 87 percent of the Diamondbacks’ uniforms are already excruciating to look upon from their road unis which are the grayest things I’ve ever seen to their home uniforms with the scales on the shoulders and ankles.
The uniforms they wore tonight already look like the baseball equivalent of a Tapout shirt, and the camo hat really completes the look.
Every single Diamondback looked like they were about to put Linkin Park on the jukebox or they were about to slap a Monster energy drink sticker in the rear cab window of their white Ford F-350.
The Giants may have gotten shut out, but you could make an argument that the Diamondbacks looked much, much worse.