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Reds pounce on Shark, edge Giants

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The tilt between the Reds and Giants Saturday night at Oracle Park was more competitive than that of the night before, and starters Jeff Samardzija and Anthony DeSclafani seemed evenly matched.

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But by the fifth inning it was a bullpen game, and Cincinnati’s relievers — whose 3.40 ERA is the best in the National League — came out on top in the 5-4 Reds win.

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

In a continuing theme for Giants starters, Samardzija (ND, 2-1, 3.51 ERA) put San Francisco in a hole before they even came to bat Saturday. Despite scattering five hits and three walks over four innings, his three earned runs in the first were the only he would allow.

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Not quite as damaging as the first frame of his last outing at the Great American ‘Small’ Park, when he gave up a single followed by three consecutive dingers to the Reds before recording an out. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the Shark threw extra pitches in his warmup before Saturday’s game in an effort to shake the first-inning blues, but it seemed to no avail. Bochy said:

“Some things are hard to explain, but as a staff we’ve had a tough time in the first inning. It’s hard to believe how many runs we’ve given up early in the game and we got to fix it.”

Within six pitches Saturday the Shark put the Giants behind, when he walked leadoff man Nick Senzel, and Joey Votto swatted a first-pitch cutter to right field for a triple to put the Reds up 1-0. 

Samardzija looked like he’d gotten it together when he whiffed the next two batters, but he wasn’t quite off the hook. Facing Giants nemesis Yasiel Puig — dressed in a new primary color since his trade to Cincinnati from Los Angeles — the Shark left a slider out over the plate and Puig didn’t miss, launching a two-run shot (6) over the left field wall to make it 3-0 before many of Saturday night’s ticket holders had even found their seats.

Samardzija, too, mentioned the attempt to switch things up to circumvent the first inning problems:

“I’m a pretty a routine-based guy so I just got out there a little earlier, got some extra pitches on the mound but you know obviously the last two times out against these guys haven’t gone great in the first inning. We’re going to work past it and just come up with some adjustments maybe with what we’re throwing there in the first.”

After Friday night’s shutout, the question was whether the Giants could muster more than a squeak Saturday, particularly in light of the fact that they were already several runs down after the first half frame. Evan Longoria launched a solo homer (6) off DeSclafani (ND, 2-1, 4.17 ERA) to deep center in answer but it would be a few more innings before they did much more.

Brandon Crawford and Kevin Pillar led off the fourth with a singles to bring Steven Duggar to the plate. Duggar took the opportunity to exact revenge upon Puig for his first inning jack when he slapped a line drive out to right that tipped off of Puig’s glove and rattled around in triples alley long enough to clear the bases and place Duggar at third. A Joe Panik sac-fly would grant San Francisco a short-lived 4-3 lead. 

Samardzija has been held to a pitch count in the neighborhood of 85 thus far in 2019 as he recovers his stamina after a season-long shoulder issue that he tried to pitch through for the better part of 2018. 

So at 86 pitches, the skipper sent up Tyler Austin in the fourth to pinch-hit for him, and right-hander Trevor Gott took the mound in the fifth. Gott promptly coughed up the lead when Eugenio Suárez sailed a 429-foot dinger (12) that nearly reached the concourse behind the bleachers in left field, tying it up at 4-4.

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Reds manager David Bell hooked DeSclafani at just 67 pitches after the fourth, presumably in an effort to keep Giants hitters from seeing him a third time through and it was a successful strategy. Cincinnati’s bullpen stifled San Francisco’s offense, even with a brief sixth inning rally built on a single and a pair of walks off southpaw Amir Garrett (W, 2-1, 1.59 ERA).

With a one-out single, Duggar took second on a wild pitch to Donovan Solano who drew a walk. Then with Panik at the plate, Duggar tried to steal third in what would have been a pivotal play. Third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth called Duggar out on the throw from Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, though, and when the Giants asked for a review, the umpires in New York backed Culbreth’s call.

Said Bochy of the play:

 “I’m shocked it wasn’t overturned. I just talked to our guys, and no question–he was safe, I don’t know how they didn’t overturn it. … And you know, it’s bad break for us–a good break for them, obviously–but that’s a big play [based on] where the score was in the game.”

Duggar was also adamant he was safe, and said he has no intention of tamping down his aggressive baserunning:

“The opportunity presented itself and I was on the aggressive side. I’ve been thrown out a couple of times lately, but that [aggressive] part of my game is trying to take an extra base and you live with the result. …On my end, I felt the bag before I felt the tag. That’s what’s the frustrating part, to be honest with you. I thought that they were going to overturn it and when they didn’t that’s when I was surprised.”

Giants relievers, though usually reliable, were not quite as airtight as the Redlegs. Facing Reyes Moronta (L 1-3, 2.12 ERA) in the seventh, Suárez led off with a double to left. Two outs later Derek Dietrich plated Suárez for the go-ahead run on a bloop single that Williamson barely missed, putting the Reds ahead 5-4.

Raisel Iglesias (S, 8, 1-5, 4.12 ERA) posted the save for Cincinnati.

Up Next

Madison Bumgarner (2-4, 3.99 ERA) will toe the rubber against righty Tyler Mahle (0-5, 3.69 ERA) in the season-series finale between the Reds and Giants Sunday. First pitch will be at 1:05 p.m.

Notes

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Giants announced Dereck Rodríguez had been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and Erik Kratz was activated from the 10-day IL (left hamstring). … Bochy announced after Saturday’s loss that Tyler Beede will make a spot start Tuesday, and Wednesday’s starter remains to be decided. He also said the Giants are transferring Derek Holland to the bullpen where he will work as a long reliever and occasional lefty-specialist .


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