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Canha’s two-run pinch-hit homer evens Bay Bridge Series

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Oakland Athletics center fielder Mark Canha (20) watches a two run home run in the seventh inning as the Oakland Athletics face the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

In his second start since rehabbing from right shoulder tightness Saturday, Jeff Samardzija struggled to find his footing and lasted just four innings allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, calling his performance “effectively wild.”

But Oakland starter Brett Anderson had an even worse night, allowing all three of the Giants runs on eight hits over just 3-1/3 innings.

The Giants (50-47) took a 3-2 lead into the seventh, before Tony Watson (L, 2-3, 2.08 ERA) had a very uncharacteristic outing, allowing a lead-off single to Josh Phegley followed by a pinch-hit homer (12) to Mark Canha, Watson’s third homer allowed this season, giving the A’s (54-42) a 4-3 lead.

San Francisco would never overcome the deficit as the A’s tied the Bay Bridge Series with a win apiece Saturday night at AT&T Park.

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

Samardzija (ND, 1-5, 6.25 ERA) opened each of his innings by putting himself in the stretch, and though he only allowed two runs he was clearly not right. Even with a smooth 11-pitch first inning, he allowed a Marcus Semien single to left to start the game, and things got uglier from there. The starter said:

“We were kind of all over the place. The slider came and went, the sinker was alright there, too, for us but we just kinda battled today. The leadoff hitter kept getting on so we kept having to get in the stretch early and couldn’t get into a great rhythm.”

From the second inning on, Samardzija seemed in a constant struggle to find the strike zone. He walked Matt Chapman on four pitches to lead off the second inning, then walked Chad Pinder on five pitches. Steven Duggar was the only thing between Samardzija and total catastrophe when he wrangled an absolute rocket to left-center off the bat of Dustin Fowler. A Phegley sac fly got the A’s on the board, but it was miraculously the only run they scored in the inning.

Duggar went straight from catching the uncatchable to leading off the home-half of the second with a flared, barely-fair double down the left field line before scoring on a ground-ball single from Alen Hanson to offer a Giants rebuttal.

The third inning was not much better for Samardzija, though. He gave up a lead-off double to Stephen Piscotty and threw a wild pitch to Matt Olson that gave Piscotty third, prompting Bochy to send Derek Holland down to the bullpen to start getting loose. The A’s took the lead back, 2-1 on a sac fly and Samardzija managed to get through the inning without giving anymore ground.

Samardzija started the fourth by hitting Pinder with a 2-0 pitch prompting Bochy to again send Holland down to the ‘pen. But he found his way with a strikeout and a pair of infield line outs to get out of the inning. Bochy may have considered putting him back out for the fifth but the Giants put together an offensive rally, and had the bullpen depth to pull the plug.

Bochy said it seemed like Samardzija may have been having an issue with loosening up:

“I think he was just little off tonight. As the inning would go he would get loose and start throwing the ball well, but it just seemed like the early go in those innings he was trying to find it and it wasn’t locating the breaking ball very well.”

The big righty agreed it was a problem:

“It’s a process right now. It didn’t warm up quite the way we wanted it to, but you know you go out there and do what you can do with what you got. I’m not making any excuses, but I thought we went out there and made some good pitches [and] got outta some things.”

Samardzija has struggled with a pectoral strain and then right shoulder tightness for the better part of the season and before going on the DL for right shoulder tightness May 30, he was rocking a 6.56 ERA. In his first start back from the disabled list against the Cardinals on July 7 he didn’t fare much better than Saturday, lasting five innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.

Bochy said his future after the break is not written in stone:

“We’ll see where he’s at. I’ll talk to the training staff and to Jeff…on how he felt and how he feels tomorrow. I’ll tell you he wants to be out there and he gives it all he has.”

The break may offer some respite to the scuffling veteran, though, and he said he’s looking forward to it:

“The break’s always a welcome time, especially the older you get. So [I’ll] take some time to get rubbed on a little bit and get ready for the second half ’cause we’ve got something special going on here and it’s amazing to come to work every day with these guys.”

San Francisco led off the fourth with back-to-back doubles from Gorkys Hernández and, who else, Duggar, tying it up 2-2. And with one out and the pitchers spot up, Bochy pinch-hit Austin Slater who singled to left to score Duggar and give the Giants the lead 3-2.

After Slater’s RBI single A’s manager Bob Melvin pulled Anderson (ND, 1-2, 6.08 ERA) for former-Giant Yusmeiro Petit (W, 4-2, 3.20 ERA), and despite two more hits to follow, San Francisco failed to add on more in the inning, and it would be the difference in the game.

With Samardzija out of the game and the Giants in the lead, Holland took the mound and put on a clinic for the fifth and sixth innings, striking out the first five batters he saw and putting up two scoreless frames. Said Bochy:

“I said he’s gonna get some starts [in the second half]. He showed some value tonight, too. That’s critical coming into that situation. He wasn’t on full rest so that was far enough for him, you know he only had three days [off] after starting, but he has thrown the ball very well and he’s really, really acclimated himself to doing starting or going to the bullpen so he’s pretty valuable to have.”

The two runs Watson allowed in the seventh were just his ninth and tenth allowed in 43-1/3 innings this season and Canha’s was just the third homer he’s given up all year.

Canha, a San Jose native, put on something of a display after hitting the monster shot into the bleachers in left, tossing his bat and screaming what looked like “This is my house!” presumably in reference to AT&T Park, after touching home. Canha is batting .143 at AT&T Park with a .557 OPS. The homer was his second hit at the ballpark in 14 plate appearances.

After the home run Watson allowed a single and a walk and Bochy hooked him for recent call-up and flamethrower, Ray Black. Black got two strikeouts to get out of the inning, hitting 101-mph on the radar gun as he struck out Khris Davis. The skipper said:

“Tony’s been doing such a good job and he [just] had an off night. He’s been so solid for us and you’re gonna have nights where you’re a little bit off. Black did a good job of picking him up.”

Despite some bottom-of-the-ninth theatrics when Blake Treinen (S, 24, 0.96 ERA) gave free passes to Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen with two outs, Treinen closed it out.

On Deck

The Giants play the rubber match of the first leg of the Bay Bridge Series with the Athletics Sunday with Andy Suárez (3-5, 3.74) on the mound facing A’s righty Sean Manaea (8-6, 3.44). The two teams will pick back up after the All Star Break to conclude the series with three games in Oakland next weekend.

Notes

The reinforcements the Giants called in in the last week to help on both sides of the ball have been doing just that. Duggar went 2-for-4 with two doubles Saturday and is batting .294 with five doubles in 26 plate appearances, and Chase d’Arnaud went 2-for-5 Saturday and is batting .294 with a double and a homer in 19 plate appearances. … Brandon Belt was ejected by third base umpire and crew chief Greg Gibson after the fourth inning when he had to be physically restrained as he argued with Gibson about a strike three call he made when home plate umpire Vic Carapazza sought his opinion on whether Belt swung. He was replaced at first base by Pablo Sandoval. It was Belt’s second career ejection.

Of the at-bat and its aftermath, Bochy said:

“He’s got a good eye and he will do some check-swings that he gets called out on sometimes, and a lot of those times he does not go, but it’s such a quick movement. At some point you gotta let it go [though]. It’s always frustrating when you don’t agree with the call, the whole at-bat I think he was frustrated with…[but] it can’t happen in a game like this. He’s a big part of this offense and it changes the game a little bit. … I’ll talk to him about it.”

The winner of the six-game cross-town series will take the Bay Bridge Trophy, crafted from metal pulled from the scraps of the old Bay Bridge. If the teams split the set, the winner of the series finale will be awarded the trophy, presented by CSN Bay Area Sports.


Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @InsideThePark3r on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.

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