Early inning troubles plagued the Giants yet again in a 9-2 trouncing by Atlanta Wednesday night.
Jeff Samardzija (L, 2-3, 3.27 ERA) endured an odd second inning. None of his six allowed that inning were earned, the product of his own error. But earned or not, the early deficit was too much to over come for the Giants (21-27) who fell to the Braves (27-23) for a second time in three nights.
A poor throw by Samardzija after a sharp come-backer, on what should have been a double play or easy force out at second, kickstarted the trouble.
“I turned around and really just saw center field. I was gonna try to lead one of ’em towards the bag, and obviously at that point it was a little too late. It’s just a weird play. There’s a lot of great things about these shifts, but it does sometimes take guys out of the double play position…Everyone was kinda diving in to go get the ball in the middle of the field, and it kinda took everyone out of position with the location of it. It’s just a freak thing.”
Braves third baseman Austin Riley, after getting hit to start the inning, scored the first run on a force out. Then with two outs, center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. reached on a strikeout and wild pitch, during which second baseman Ozzie Albies trotted home. Shortstop Dansby Swanson provided the heavy blow with a three-run bomb (8) to center field on the first offering after the errant punch out.
First baseman Freddie Freeman went back-to-back (12) with Swanson, capping off a six-run second inning comprised entirely of unearned runs. Samardzija became the first Giants pitcher to allow six or more runs with none marked as earned since Russ Ortiz in 1999.
The San Francisco starter buttoned it up from there, lasting six innings and holding Atlanta to four hits and the six second-inning uneared runs while striking out seven.
Despite the crooked-number inning, manager Bruce Bochy thought Samardzija had one of his better pitching performances of the season:
“Actually, he made some pretty good pitches. Even the pitcher, he got the ground ball, but [Max] Fried can get down the line, and we had no chance to turn [a double play on] that one. It’s a shame, because Shark threw really well. We gave ’em too many outs in that second inning, but that was some of his best stuff, I thought.”
Atlanta’s Max Fried (W, 7-2, 2.88 ERA) basked in the run support, pitching six solid innings of four-hit, two-run ball.
The Giants offense attempted to claw back into the game while Samardzija was battling on the mound. Buster Posey got San Francisco on the board with an RBI single to right in the fourth — though it appeared to be much more off the bat. Alas, a Posey run at a rare Oracle Park right-handed opposite-field homer fell feet short and Nick Markakis threw the slow-footed catcher at second.
Two innings later, Tyler Austin did what Posey couldn’t, smoking a solo blast (3) over the bricks in straight-away right.
The Braves tacked on more runs soon after Fried exited, with Riley tagging Derek Holland for a three-run home run (4) in the seventh that sealed a disappointing outing following Tuesday night’s dramatic win.