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Giants can’t escape the nincompoopery of the second inning

The Giants gave up six unearned runs in the second inning, and that was it. That was the game.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

If you turned off last night’s game before it was over, you were probably kicking yourself after the Giants came back. Maybe that convinced you to keep the game tonight even when the Giants were down 6-0 after the second. You could convince yourself that they could come back. They’ve come back from greater deficits already this year.

If you stuck out this game, you were not rewarded for your faith. This was not a game you should have watched. You could have done anything else with your evening aside from watching the Giants lose because of a bunch of screw ups in one inning.

The Giants allowed their first run after they couldn’t turn two double plays in the second inning. Jeff Samardzija fielded a comebacker, but there was some apparent confusion as to who should cover second with the shift in effect. Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria just kind of stared at each other saying, “I don’t usually stand over here.” Samardzija threw it to somebody, but in retrospect, he should have gone to first, but he can be forgiven for not thinking through a puzzle Longo and Craw suddenly thrust upon him. That wasn’t his fault.

The would-be double play came on a grounder to Donovan Solano. The Giants did everything right. but it turns out that Max Fried is a quick boy. Fried’s long spider legs meant that a run came across when the inning should have been over. No biggie. There was still plenty of time to erase a measy one-run deficit. All Samardzija had to do was get the next hitter out.

Which he did! Or at least he would have if not for the dumbest rule in all of sports. Samardzija struck out Ronald Acuña Jr. on a pitch in the dirt, but the pitch went to the backstop. Samardzija did his job as well as he could. He got Acuña to swing at a pitch he had no hope of hitting, but because third strikes arbitrarily have different rules than any other strikes, the catcher needed to catch the ball to record a putout.

That made the game 2-0 when it should have been scoreless. That’s definitely frustrating, but still nothing the Giants couldn’t come back from. Samardzija threw a fastball up and away that Dansby Swanson somehow pulled into the left-center bleachers to make it 5-0. Then to Freddie Freeman, Samardzija, who was understandably upset, became a little less fine with his command. Freeman also homered to make it 6-0.

Of course, Freeman homered in that spot. He didn’t even have to swing the bat. He was just awarded the dinger before he even stepped in the box.

Samardzija had already gotten five outs in the inning, but the Braves put up a six-spot anyway. It was not their finest inning. If the second afforded Samardzija any solace it’s that each of the six runs were unearned, so his ERA is still under 4.00.

You gotta hand it to Samardzija. With all the bullroar and nincompoopery going on around him, he kept his composure. The frustration was visible, but he didn’t show up his teammates or his coaches. You could not say the same thing about Rich Hill after Ji-Man Choi bunted against the shift.

This is extremely not safe for work.

That was the only hit in the inning! And he freaked out like when you were nine years old and your friend’s dad would come home and find a dirty plate on the coffee table. At least Samardzija just fumed.

If not for the disastrous second inning, this could have been a watchable game. Outside of those pitches to Swanson and Freeman, Samardzija pitched effectively. His battle against Max Fried might have made for a fine pitchers’ duel. Samardzija, the crafty vet who has had to reinvent himself, versus Max Fried, the nubile youth who has never had to contemplate his own mortality. Samardzija was clearly overmatched even if both teams had equal offenses, but the Shark held his own. He struck out seven batters in six innings. He only walked two. Three of his four hits came after what should have been an inning-ending double play.

I generally hesitate to give a pitcher a free pass when they give up six unearned runs in an inning, especially when it was technically his error that led to the runs. But the circumstances of that inning were extraordinarily dumb.

Was this a good start by Jeff Samardzija?



Look, I don’t know. Ask again later.

It shouldn’t be difficult for Derek Holland to lower his ERA at this point. He entered the game with a 7.17 ERA. Even if he gave up two runs in his three-inning outing, it would have gone down. He left the game with a 7.30 ERA. Holland gave up a three-run homer to Austin Riley on a sinker at the letters. It was an awful pitch and it deserved to be punished.

The whole Holland situation is great. The Giants aren’t going to DFA him yet because he was the biggest offseason signing. They apparently can’t put him on the phantom-IL again because of what he said last time. He’s going to have to pitch. Fortunately, the Giants have been getting blown out every other game, so Bochy hasn’t been at a lack for excuses to get him in the game.

Tyler Austin hit an opposite field home run tonight. That’s the first time a right-handed Giant has hit an opposite field homer at Oracle Park since August 10, 2018 when Andrew McCutchen did it. The Giants had three such homers last year and three the year before. These are about as frequent as complete game shutouts.

It wasn’t an impactful homer, but it was rare and majestic like a unicorn. Feast your eyes. You may not see something like this until next year.