Calixte’s impressive debut can’t halt Giant slide

Despite unrelenting boos from fans when Bryce Harper took the batter’s box, the dust seemed to have settled in the wake of Monday’s madness. There were no Buster Posey retaliation pitches, no warnings from the umpires before the game. Manager Bruce Bochy considered the matter settled, given the opponent:

“They’re a class organization over there and they understand that’s not who we are.”

The air cleared, the drama settle, but the San Francisco Giants proved again that, at least right now, they are not be good enough to beat the Washington Nationals. Jeff Samardzija took 4 innings to deal 100 pitches and the Giants (22-32) fell to the Nats (32-19) 6-3 Tuesday night.

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

The silver lining, though, came int he person of Orlando Calixte. The outfielder was called up to take the place of a struggling Mac Williamson in the outfield prior to the game.

Calixte came in with three hitless MLB at-bats as a member of the Kansas City Royals in 2015 prior to his first nod atop the San Francisco lineup.

In his first two at-bats at AT&T Park, Calixte got some big firsts out of the way quick against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (W, 4-1, 3.03 ERA): his first MLB hit and RBI, which came in a pair on a double to the left corner. That was the jolt Bochy and his crew hoped the rookie would carry over from his hot streak in Sacramento, where he’d tallied 26 RBI with a .287 average in 41 games with the Rivercats.

Following the game he told reporters, through interpreter Erwin Higueros, that he would be sending the ball to his mother. He also became the first Giant since Randy Winn in 2009 to play all three outfield positions, an accomplishment he can’t mail but store in his big-league memory bank that he’ll be etched on a small list.

The 25-year-old had a shot at making the game close once more with two on and two outs in the sixth, but home plate umpire Mike DiMuro’s questionable strike three call nixed that. The game was not yet a slow runaway for the Nats, and Bochy thought the benefit of a favorable call would have altered the game’s course:

“They got the benefit of that call. … That could have gotten us back in the game.”

No other Giant was having a night like Calixte. And the Nationals offense made that triumph look downright silly as they eased three runs on nine hits against Samardzija (L, 1-7, 4.63 ERA) and three more against reliever Bryan Morris on four hits in the fifth. A six-run game is normal on any day that ends in “Y” for this team — they average an MLB-best 5.54 runs per game.

Samardzija never caught up after a grueling first inning.

Trea Turner reached on an infield hit, made his way to third and, with two outs, scored on Ryan Zimmerman‘s double. Daniel Murphy added on an RBI double of his own, forcing the Giants hurler to deal 30 pitches before Anthony Rendon lined the third out. Samardzija said that’s just the make of this team:

“They make you work out there. They had a great approach.”

Said Bochy:

“They’re a tough lineup, good things happen when you put the ball in play. … That three run inning, that made it an uphill climb for us.”

Samardzija would have to trudge through a 30-pitch second as well, beginning with a Michael Taylor single and rare Buster Posey throwing error that advanced him into scoring position, made worse by a  two-strike RBI single by the pitcher. Turner and Jayson Werth singled to load the bases and Samardzija escaped by striking out Harper looking and Zimmerman swinging. The feat felt triumphant despite the early hole in which the Giants suddenly found themselves.

Despite the bare numeric optics behind his shortest outing of the season, Samardzija was generally strong, an assertion perhaps best told by the fact that he didn’t walk a single batter, said Bochy:

“You have to give their lineup credit. … I thought ‘Shark’ did a great job out there battling. Unfortunately when you get 100 pitches through four innings, you need to be a little cautious.”

The heart of the Nats’ lineup went at it again against Morris in the fifth, earlier than he’s been accustomed to, loading the bases and putting two more runs on the board with Taylor’s RBI single up the middle. Morris complicated things for himself fumbling a Gonzalez sac bunt to load the bases again for Werth, who walked in a run.

Harper finished 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, each draped with cheers as loud as those  coming behind a Posey RBI single in the seventh that cut the home team’s deficit to three.

The loss pushed the Giants 12 games back of first place and 10 games under .500. The Nationals settled their score.

Up Next

Giants will send Matt Cain (3-3, 4.45 ERA) out to face Max Scherzer (5-3, 2.77 ERA) in an attempt not to get swept Wednesday night.

Notes

Not everyone left Monday’s brawl unscathed, as it turns out. Michael Morse was placed on the 7-day concussion DL prior to Tuesday’s game 24 hours after colliding with Samardzija in the scrum. Morse was fine yesterday, said Bochy, but felt odd after taking batting practice today. He took the concussion test and failed it, said Bochy:

“It was a no-brainer.

“Here he gets hurt trying to break things up, and now he’s down for a while. … He took a good shot and that’s a big man that hit him.”

Kelby Tomlinson was recalled to take his spot on the 25-man.

Madison Bumgarner was scheduled to start throwing Friday, but prodded his trainers to let him throw a few days earlier, said Bruce Bochy:

“He’s been doing so well he wanted to bump it up.”

Bumgarner just played a little round of catch, 45 pitches to be exact, from 40-to-60 feet.

Hunter Pence ran the bases “with intensity” Tuesday, and is scheduled to start his rehab assignment sometime next week. … Conor Gillaspie had a setback with his back injury in his last rehab assignment. He is expected to resume in the coming days.


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.