Rockies spoil Giants’ Mother’s Day gift
The Giants’ offense couldn’t get much going in Sunday’s 2-0 series finale loss to Colorado.
The shutout against the Rockies (15-16) spoiled a solid outing from right-hander Jeff Samardzija, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to succeed the Giants (17-16) atop the National League West.
Rockies starter Eddie Butler (1-1) earned his first win of 2016, allowing four Giants hits and striking out a career-high six batters over of six innings pitched. Sunday marks just the second time the Giants have been shut out this season (April 19 vs. the Diamondbacks).
The Rockies lead the National League in team batting average (.275) and lead the NL West in home runs (42) and slugging percentage (.469).
Samardzija said after the game he enjoys the challenge Rockies hitters pose:
“I love facing these guys. That lineup brings it every time you face them. I have to go back and watch the film to see exactly how that went down, but they’re smart hitters. I threw them a couple balls away and they went with them and got me in some trouble.”
Whatever trouble Samardzija may have found himself in Sunday, the Giants’ zero runs scored wouldn’t be enough run support for any pitcher. Catcher Buster Posey lamented that fact after the loss:
“He threw the ball great. It was unfortunate we couldn’t score any runs for him. … I think he was throwing everything well. The sinker, the slider, the cutter — everything was crisp.”
Plenty a mother populated AT&T Park to watch the game, with both Rockies and Giants players clad in Mother’s Day commemorative pink-detailed uniforms and hats, as well as wielding hot pink baseball bats. The pink equipment is part of Major League Baseball’s “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” campaign.
The Giants and Rockies decided Saturday’s 13 innings was a bit indulgent, opting to close Sunday’s game in usual the nine frames.
The Rockies struck in their first time up on the afternoon.
Nolan Arenado followed Trevor stories one-out double with a triple off the wall in right-center field.
Story scored from third on the drive, but Samardzija capped the damage, forcing a soft ground out from the next batter, Gerardo Parra, for the inning’s third out.
The Giants had a prime chance to respond in the second.
Brandon Belt hit a one-out single before Hunter Pence doubled off Levi’s Landing’s brick wall in right. Belt was held up at third, bringing up Brandon Crawford with two base runners in scoring position.
Crawford was then intentionally walked, loading the bases for Mac Williamson. Butler handed Williamson his first of three strikeouts on the day and then struck out Jeff Samardzija to end the inning, leaving the Giants empty handed.
Bochy emphasized after the game how tough it can be for young players like Williamson to come up and make a consistent impact:
“He had a rough day. You’re hoping, when you give a guy a day, he comes up and has a good game for you. But it was a rough day for him at the plate. I’m sure he’s pressing and trying to make something happen for the team to help the club out. It’s hard for a young kid coming up here. It’s one of the hardest things, to be a spot starter or a pinch hitter. The game’s hard enough for a young player and that’s even more difficult.”
Colorado tacked on their second run in the third. Gerardo Parra, 1-4 on the day, drove in Carlos Gonzalez from second on a two-out base hit dumped in front of Williamson, who was filling in for the injured Angel Pagan in left field.
The two one-run innings were all Samardzija would allow. The first-year Giant twice struck out the side and issued just one walk. Samardzija’s 123-pitch tally on Sunday was his most as a Giant and most in any big league uniform since May 2014.
Posey’s mild offensive struggles carried into Sunday’s game. The former National League MVP is hitting .300 on the year, but has just two hits in his last fifteen at bats and went 0-9 over the weekend.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game Posey, who has caught 22 innings over the last two days, will get a day off on Monday.
Posey acknowledged his recent offensive struggles after the game, and said he feels he needs to pick up his run production going forward:
“I need to be better [with runners in scoring position]. I haven’t been good enough at it this year. Sometimes it’s just as simple as getting back to the basics and simplifying things. I think that can get you going sometimes.”
Posey said he’d take Monday’s day off as a chance to rest, not get additional reps in the batting cage.
The loss means the Giants and Rockies split their four-game set at two apiece. The clubs will meet again at Coors Field at the end of May.
The Giants next play the Toronto Blue Jays, hosting the defending AL East champions for the first time since June 2013 in a three-games series beginning Monday.
Jake Peavy (1-3) will look to chip away at his 9.00 ERA against a Toronto offense struggling to replicate the dominance it paraded across baseball in 2015, when they lead the Majors in runs scored (891), homers (232) and OPS (.797).
The Jays will trot out California native Aaron Sanchez (2-1) against the second-place Giants. The 23-year-old out of Bakersfield College will face off against the veteran Peavy, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m.