Eleven hits and five runs weren’t enough for the Giants to bust their slump Monday night, so they juiced the output Tuesday.
San Francisco (41-67) hammered out 14 hits, drumming the Athletics (47-60) to the tune of a 10-4 thumping, splitting the first two games of this season’s Bay Bridge series.
The same Oakland offense that piled 12 hits and eight runs of its own one day prior was silent, shut down by Jeff Samardzija who lasted 8 innings to make the league’s fifth 60-game loser of his former club.
Samardzija (W, 6-11, 4.77 ERA) allowed four of the first five he faced to reach, but settled in and using 118 pitches held the A’s to six hits and four runs — three earned. Oakland catcher Bruce Maxwell said the struggles of his own starter Sean Manaea, who surrendered a five-spot in the first, made things a bit easier on San Francisco’s big righty:
“I feel like it’s a little easier little to pitch when you have a 5-0 lead after the first. He kept us off-balance and he minimized the damage as much as he could. But also, their team scored runs. I feel like giving him that cushion allowed him to relax a little bit and go eight strong.”
The Giants’ monstrous first unfolded quickly.
Led by Brandon Belt and Buster Posey, who combined to go 5-for-9 with four runs and three RBIs, San Francisco had two on the board mere minutes into the game. And one out from escaping with limited damage dealt, Manaea (L, 8-6, 3.88 ERA) hung an 0-1 changeup over the heart of the plate for Nick Hundley, who in turn launched it over the high wall in left-center for a two-run homer (5).
That was the problem for Manaea, whose poor starts are normally fueled by walks: this time, his misses were in the zone, rather than out of it. He walked just one, but allowed nine hits and six runs in his 3-inning abbreviated start. He said he said forced to use the the breaking ball more than is customary, claiming that he can take that as a positive in a start otherwise devoid of them:
“Being able to throw my slider for a strike, especially out of the stretch, I felt like that was the one good pitch that I had today — fastball location wasn’t really that good. My changeup, I kinda lost feeling for it.”
Compounding things, these poorly placed heaters had considerably less heat than normal.
A power pitcher who regularly brings a fastball around 92 to 93 mph, Manaea spent much of his abbreviated night a tick below the 90-mph mark. Leaving his limited fastball over the plate offered the Giants batting practice.
Manager Bob Melvin insisted that the lack of velocity is not a concern, saying it didn’t appear that “anything (was) coming out”:
“Just one of those nights when he was off a little bit. We gave them some extra outs in the first, but usually he’s getting a few more swings and misses and really he wasn’t getting many. One of those rare outings for him when he doesn’t get you deep into the game.”
“I definitely got spanked around a little bit. They were squaring up balls — it just seemed like every ball found the grass or got by somebody. … They just put it on me really, really well.”
Michael Brady was the man tabbed with dousing the fire his starter couldn’t contain.
After allowing a dinger (17) to Belt — the third time in eight appearances he has been taken deep by the first batter he’s faced this season — Brady buckled in, though an intentional walk of Posey in the seventh was followed with a three-run blast (8) by Hunter Pence.
When he arrived in the clubhouse, Brady was greeted by a contingent of Oakland relievers, who offered hand shakes and some words. It wasn’t for the five hits and four runs he allowed, but for the 6 innings he lasted finishing off matters and saving the recently overworked bullpen which had eaten 20-1/3 innings in the previous four games.
“We needed it. We had quite a few guys that we didn’t want to use unless we had to today. He was a bullpen saver for us, for sure. Sometimes you need someone to got out there and do that for you, and he did it. We’ll be a lot fresher tomorrow, a lot better tomorrow for it.”
The Giants needed no such performance, getting it instead from Samardzija, who the skipper said looked vulnerable in the early innings. But Oakland offense couldn’t pounce. He got some help, as it were, from Matt Joyce who broke baseball’s golden rule, making the first out of the inning — and the game — at third, gunned down by Posey on a wild pitch that trickled less than 10 feet from the Gold Glove catcher.
Joyce did his best to make up for the mistake, hammering a two-run homer (14) in the fifth giving him Oakland’s only multi-hit performance as well as three RBIs.
The Battle of the Bay shifts to San Francisco for games three and four with Daniel Gossett (2-6, 5.74 ERA) and Matt Moore (3-10, 5.74 ERA) set to do battle Wednesday night. The A’s have lost six of seven on the road since the All-Star break.
John Axford, who was designated for assignment on July 27, cleared waivers Tuesday and was released by the team. Axford (0-1, 6.43 ERA) appeared in 22 games after having the start to his season delayed by a shoulder strain. … The five runs scored in the first inning were the most the Giants have scored in a single frame this season. … Ryon Healy finished July without a home run, it was the first homerless month in his career — he has been in the big league for seven months. He slashed .219/.269/.260. … Home runs by Nick Hundley, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence matched the Giants’ season high (3), which they have done four times — the most recent coming on June 22.