Stellar ‘Shark’ leads Giants past A’s

Jeff Samardzija went through a particularly grueling lull last season.

His fastball fell flat, and hitters started taking him deep on the regular (he gave up eight homers in July and August).

That Samardzija was nowhere to be found in Friday’s game, the final tune-up prior to the regular season. Behind their starter, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Oakland Athletics 2-1.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Samardzija said he knew he had his stuff coming out of the ‘pen. He could just sit back and let Buster Posey call this one easy. The Shark’s fastball had slick movement and he sprinkled in his slider and curveball nicely, notching six strikeouts through five shutout innings. He only gave up one hit.

The slider, specifically, had Samardzija going:

“I thought that slider was really good tonight. … I got some punch outs and was throwing it away effectively.”

Manager Bruce Bochy agreed:

“His breaking ball was great, got command with it, pounded the strike zone. … He was hitting his spots, had a great feel for it.”

The 32-year-old looks to be settling in after an unsettled spring in which he posted a 7.12 ERA through 19 innings.

Brandon Crawford smacked a fastball into the opposite field stands off Jharel Cotton to give the Giants a second-inning 1-0 lead, held until the A’s rallied late.

Eduardo Nunez made a throwing error on a Mark Canha ground ball and Jaff Decker cashed in with a double off Hunter Strickland, tying the game 1-1 in the eighth.

Nunez would redeem himself, though, beating out an attempted double play with the bases loaded and effectively sending in the g0-ahead run. Extra inning spring baseball would have to wait.

Roster moves

The Giants started the series with 29 on the active roster. They cut it down to 26 after Friday’s game.

Josh Osich, Kelby Tomlinson and Albert Suarez were sent back to Triple-A Sacramento. This may mean that reliever Steven Okert will fill Will Smith’s spot as the late-inning lefty.

Aaron Hill, Bochy essentially confirmed, will take a infielder’s bench spot:

“Hill’s done a great job, and he brings experience.”

Bochy also set Chris Marrero’s spot on the roster in stone, stopping short of confirming his platoon role. He’ll play some first base, he said.

Marrero said this will be his first Opening Day on an active roster:

“A person in my position, you have to open up some eyes.”


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.