Yoenis Cespedes: Crusher of dreams, denier of hope.
If his two home runs Saturday night didn’t completely cool the Giants’ hope at a little momentum before their trip to Los Angeles, his dinger Sunday evening certainly extinguished it.
Jeff Samardzija rode a no-hitter into the seventh inning and in just three pitches was denied a win. Curtis Granderson doubled to left field for the Mets first hit of the night and Cespedes crushed a 1-0 pitch to the left field walk way to hand the Mets a 2-0 win over the Giants.
Before Granderson’s hit, Samardzija was dealing stuff this team’ hadn’t seen out of him in weeks. He was mixing pitches effortlessly, keeping hitters off-balance up and down New York’s lineup.
This is the Samardzija the Giants hoped would resurface. Given the way their third guy is throwing, Samardzija might have been the guy this team needed in Los Angeles.
Samardzija’s ERA dating back to June 22 hiked up to an NL-leading 6.05; a rough patch through which he acknowledged he was forcing his pitches into the strike zone.
Through his last three, though, he’s held up a 2.47 ERA. Sunday night’s dominant performance marked a sign that he’s found his stride. Samardzija is confident in every pitch he’s throwing, he trusts his fastball and breaking stuff now:
“To be able to let it go out there feels good.”
That confidence translated into something un-hittable through the duration of his start. He struck out seven Mets and looked close to a complete game, at least.
But Cespedes made the un-hittable look downright soft, ultimately providing the game changer, said Bruce Bochy:
“He ran into a hot hitter. It wasn’t that bad of a pitch, he just went down and dug it out.”
Samardzija knew that Cespedes was capable of turning the game around. He’d seen it first hand when they were teammates in Oakland not long ago.
A win for Samardzija would have been on the table had not been for Noah Syndergaard, who was downright filthy through every inning.
He held a no-hitter until Eduardo Nuñez’s infield hit in the fourth and gave up just one more hit to Joe Panik there after.
Syndergaard had allowed 40 stolen bases before Friday, so base runners were told to be aggressive, said Bochy:
“When you’re facing a guy like this, the one thing we thought we could do was run on him.”
But the Mets had Rene Rivera behind the dish, who made up the difference with a sub-two second release to capture two of the three base runners Syndergaard allowed.
And they needed those base runners badly. Samardzija might have had a better chance at a no-hitter, but Syndergaard was tough to get to, said Brandon Crawford:
“He was hitting his spots with all three pitches. … he was missing the barrel a lot, got a lot of soft contact.”
The Giants struck out six times against him and few hit balls made it beyond the infield. Bochy added:
“I don’t know who would have hit him tonight. … You’re not going to see better stuff than what we faced tonight.”
So, one Cespedes swing ultimately was the difference in what Bochy called a “beautiful,” nationally broadcast game.
Beautiful or not, the Giants once again fall into second place. They’ll fly to Los Angeles a half game behind their rival, but will have three games to climb a little higher…or fall a little deeper.