Two triples, two doubles, nine runs, a trio of dazzling Brandon Crawford putouts, six shutout innings.
It all clicked, finally, said Crawford:
“It’s just been a while since we’ve all come together in a game and contributed all at the same time.”
Crawford and the Giants (28-51) were finally singing a different tune, Juicy J’s “Bounce It” bumped over the clubhouse speakers once again. It felt odd, when just 24 hours prior they’d admitted yet again the depth of their losing tendencies in a familiar, deafening silence.
Buster Posey remarked after Sunday’s fifth consecutive loss that everything was going completely wrong. Pitching hasn’t been good, nor has the hitting or defense, he said. A three-game series against the powerful Rockies (47-32) — who had beaten the Giants nine games straight — seemed a recipe for devastation on top of disaster. The path to a win, Posey said, would require a contagious jolt of success.
For the first time in what’s felt like months, Giants hitters were driving the ball early and often, even reaching on perfectly placed grounders against Rockies starter German Marquez (L, 5-4, 4.38 ERA). Jeff Samardzija provided a 1-2-3 first and Denard Span kicked off the bottom of the first with a single.
The jolt began.
Brandon Belt and Span pummeled RBI triples in the second and third innings respectively, and Posey tallied a pair of RBIs with a double in the first and sacrifice fly in the third. San Francisco held a 5-0 lead heading into the seventh inning. Manager Bruce Bochy was smiling for the first time in days:
“There’s a lot of talent in this offense, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be consistently scoring runs. … Tonight, I thought the bats were so much better. When we get it going, guys feel so much better about themselves.”
That jolt continued easily through Samardzija (W, 3-9, 4.63 ERA), who was already riding the best-looking 2-9 record in baseball.
Samardzija put up 6 shutout innings, striking out five and walking none, against a top-10 offense — the same team that put up eight runs on 11 hits against him in Colorado. Nolan Arenado went 0-for-3 against him (0-for-4 on the night), said Samardzija of his approach:
“I was just trying to stay away from anything he could power.”
Keeping the known Giant Killer subdued permeated though Samardzija’s approach all night. The Rockies consistently hit into soft contact. Crawford kept his pitcher dry, too, most notably when he spun a third inning threat into a spectacular, heads-up 6-5 putout. New third baseman Ryder Jones and Crawford had a discussion about the play a few days ago, chuckled Crawford:
“I don’t think I’ve ever made that play.”
Trouble started to brew in the seventh, though, with Samardzija’s pitch count nearing the 100-mark out the gate. Mark Reynolds and Raimel Tapia singled to lead off the inning and scored on a Trevor Story drive to left. Samardzija departed to a stressed standing ovation; a well-deserved win was in the balance, said Bochy:
“‘Shark’ has been throwing the ball well, but we just had trouble scoring runs for him. … Guys came through for him tonight.”
Hunter Strickland limited the damage, though the Rockies cut the deficit to 5-2 with the game now in the bullpen’s hands.
A hot lineup wouldn’t hold the fans in suspense, though. Crawford added an RBI single the following inning and the heart of the order iced it with a three-run eighth.
Bochy said after the game that Sam Dyson will be the new setup man, with some Strickland sprinkled in.
Dyson looked worthy, pitching a shutdown eighth, making way for a scoreless Kyle Crick ninth and a first game since June 11 that the Giants did not have to bat in the ninth.