Allow me to briefly oversimplify the current era of baseball: Try to hit the ball over the fence, and live with any ensuing failure. If you accidentally single, great, but try to hit the ball over the fence, and yes, you’ll strike out more, but you’ll also hit the ball over the fence more.
For batters, if you adjust the speed and angle of your swing, then you increase the odds that you’ll hit a home run if you can just make contact. It’s the making contact part that really ties it all together.
So you can imagine the position Jeff Samardzija is in, because he is currently incapable of getting hitters to swing and miss. He often creates weak contact, but he rarely ever creates no contact. Which means every time he throws a pitch he’s rolling the dice and hoping that they don’t land on “home run.”
But the dice, like rusty slot machines in the Vegas airport, are rigged. If you roll the dice every batter, the law of averages will catch up to you, and you will eventually lose. The only way to win is to not roll the dice which, in this long, confusing, and ultimately stupid metaphor, is achieved by not allowing a batter to make contact.
Allow me to present you some staggering facts about Samardzija’s lack of lack of contact.
- He has faced 65 batters. He has struck out 5 of them. He has given up home runs to 6 of them.
- He has thrown 252 pitches. He has allowed a hit on 18 of those pitches. He has forced a batter to swing and miss on 14 of those pitches.
- One of those 5 strikeouts came on Friday night, on a called strike three that was about three inches outside.
The game is rigged if you cannot produce swinging strikes, and Samardzija emphatically cannot produce swinging strikes.
As a result, the the San Francisco Giants lost a lopsided affair, dropping the series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2.
It was the aforementioned home runs that did the Shark in, first by Mookie Betts, later my Max Muncy, and finally by Will Smith.
And it was the second straight Samardzija start that the Giants simply mailed in. For the second game in a row, the Giants trailed 5-1, with Samardzija not looking like a pitcher capable of getting outs, and they kept him in the game to eat innings and preserve the bullpen for the next game.
This time it came in the form of letting Samardzija pitch the fifth inning, even though he’d already given up three home runs. And then it came in the form of letting him stay in the said fifth inning after he walked the leadoff batter. And then it came in the form of letting him stay in the game after he plunked the next batter.
Finally the mercy from Gabe Kapler and Co. came when Samardzija hit a second-straight batter, loading the bases while not even having the basic business sense to ask for an out or two in return. Just poor negotiating, really.
I can think of no better way to illustrate how much Samardzija struggled than by discussing that final batter. Samardzija threw a fastball inside that only just barely grazed Kiké Hernández, if it even touched him. Hernández was awarded first base, loading the bases with no outs and he ... argued. He didn’t want his free base. He wanted to reject one of the most valuable things in baseball so that he could stay in the batter’s box and see another pitch from Samardzija.
The Giants then challenged the call, and when it was erroneously reported that it was actually the Dodgers challenging the call — seeking to have their own good fortune reversed so they could pursue something grander — no one blinked an eye. Who could blame Hernández for thinking he could do better than a lowly one-bagger?
I’m sorry. You didn’t want to spend your Friday evening or Saturday morning reading 600 words about how Jeff Samardzija is currently the pitcher’s equivalent of trying to stumble to the bathroom at 3 a.m. when you’re in the dreaded transitional bridge between Drunk Town and Hangover City and your leg’s asleep.
So here’s your respite: A Wilmer Flores dinger!
That ball was socially distanced 380 feet.— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 8, 2020
There’s not much else good to talk about. Flores backed that up with a double, to cap off a mighty fine day at the office for him. Mike Yastrzemski doubled, and Austin Slater tripled for his first extra-base hit of the year.
Donovan Solano had an RBI single, and ran his hitting streak to 12 games in the process.
Donovan Solano's 12-game hit streak is the longest for a #SFGiants player since Andrew McCutchen had a 13-game hit streak from April 30-May 14, 2018.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) August 8, 2020
On the Dodgers broadcast, Orel Hershiser compared Brandon Belt to John Olerud, leaving me to wonder why Dodgers fans can appreciate Belt’s talent but Giants fans cannot.
Sam Selman was spectacular, getting out of that three-on, none-out situation while allowing just one run to score, which came on an error. He pitched a pair of no-hit innings while striking out three.
And that’s a comprehensive list of the good things that happened in this game.