Stelllar Santana stymies stumbling Giants

Ervin Santana isn’t making a lot of mistakes this year. He made exactly one Friday night, and Aaron Hill smashed it for a leadoff triple, his 1,500th career hit.

Austin Slater and Matt Moore cued a pair of shallow outs before Denard Span grounded out, putting to waste Hill’s milestone and Ervin’s Lone Mistake.

The thin crowd sighed, yet, the end to one of the Giants’ most productive innings against a new face in Santana seemed about right. The Giants got Greg Maddux-ed, losing their 38th game of the season, 4-0, to the Minnesota Twins.

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

There was no getting past him, noted Buster Posey, who cut short a 22 at-bat streak in which he’d successfully reached base:

“He didn’t miss a lot tonight … commanded his slider really well.”

Hill’s short moment of triumph seemed the only key to any inkling of a Giants rally. He took over for Joe Panik, out with a sprained thumb, at second as one of two players with any kind of success against Santana.

In typical fashion, the rest of the Giants looked listless against a pitcher they’d never seen, added Bruce Bochy:

“He stays on the corner with that slider and fastball…We kept hitting the ball right into the ground. … I think we see why this guy is having a great year.”

The Giants are historically bad against pitchers they’ve never seen. But this was no ordinary rookie fresh out of the minors — Santana (W, 8-3, 2.20 ERA) already had two shutouts under his belt as he took the mound Friday night, toting a 2.44 ERA, seven wins.

Santana took advantage and moved up another rung — to a 2.20 ERA, a third shutout on four hits. It only took him 91 pitches.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to make this Giants team look sleepy. Washington’s Max Scherzer sent the Giants away with a series-sweeping shutout to cap the last home stand. Momentum shifting from nine-run outing in Milwaukee Thursday night wouldn’t survive the buzzsaw they faced Friday, said Bochy:

“When a pitcher is that good, it makes you look flat.”

Santana was a killer on the other end, too.

Moore (L, 2-7, 5.28 ERA) labored through the fourth, pitching around Jason Castro to load the bases for the pitcher.

The move didn’t seem ridiculous given Santana’s past. AL pitchers don’t take batting practice. Santana hadn’t taken an at bat all year before Friday, hadn’t gotten a hit since his time in 2014 with the Atlanta Braves, said Bochy:

“He’s a great pitcher, but I know he’s not a very good hitter.”

Moore’s pitch missed the zone’s lower third and Santana’s bat met ball for a base-clearing double and, for himself, a nice little four-run cushion.

Not that he’d need it. Brian Dozier gave the AL Central leaders a 1-0 lead with a one-out single inched past Crawford’s glove an inning prior.

Moore departed after six innings with just 88 pitches against him. He gave up six hits, letting the undoable damage catch up to him in that Santana at-bat. Posey thought Moore looked solid after that fourth, Bochy agreed:

“His numbers look good if that doesn’t happen.”

Up next

Jeff Samardzija faces Jose Berrios Saturday at 1 p.m. in Game 2 of this inter-league series. Samardzija is riding a 7-2/3 inning, 1 earned run outing against Milwaukee. He’s been exceptional in his last seven starts, save for a rough outing against the Nationals. Watch for his K/BB ratio– as of now, he’s struck out 59 and given up one walk over those starts.

Notes

Some positives: Madison Bumgarner threw 20 pitches off the mound today and could throw a simulated game in Colorado (…the scene of the crime). … RHP Sam Dyson, acquired from the Texas Rangers last week for cash and a player to be named later, was activated on the 25-man roster. Orlando Calixte was optioned.


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.