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Suddenly scuffing Giants return home, sink below .500

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San Francisco fell back below .500 for the first time since July 20 in their 4-0 defeat to the Nationals at Oracle Park Monday night.

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They exhibited wild pitching and comatose offense, and the wheels simply fell off in what was easily the ugliest baseball the Giants (56-57) have played since early June.

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

It took Jeff Samardzija (W, 8-9, 3.70 ERA) 98 pitches to scratch and claw his way through just four innings. And even though, by the skin of his teeth, he allowed only one run, San Francisco’s offense tanked back to its pre-hot streak levels, and it was one run too many. 

San Francisco pitching had walked 72 batters in 29 contests dating back to July 1, but three of the five Giants who took the mound Monday night combined to walk eight Nats. Manager Bruce Bochy chalked it up to a flukey, bad night for his staff:

“We had a hard time finding the strike zone. It hasn’t happened very often, we’ve done a good job with that, but it was an off-night as far as that. It’s not like us to walk that many, but it was a tough night for a couple pitchers trying to find the strike zone.”

Samardzija was responsible for three of those free passes. After a shutdown first inning, he opened the second by issuing free passes to Juan Soto and Matt Adams.

As a result, a one-out line drive to left-center looked good for extra-bases and at least one run. But a diving catch from the resident Superman, Kevin Pillar, kept Washington off the board, for the time. Samardzija expressed gratitude and awe at the centerfielder’s skill:

“It’s impressive when those things start to become the norm, right? But I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing to watch every time, especially from my angle, seeing the ball slice away from him or slice to him and you’re just kind of sitting there hoping it hangs up long enough for him to make a dive at it, because you know he’s amazing at it. He makes that play look really easy and he’s a joy to watch out there playing baseball.”

In the third, however, the Nationals did break through against Samardzija. He allowed back-to-back two-out singles to give up a run, before notching his third walk.

And overall the Shark said he was disappointed with his performance. Though he gave up just three hits, he allowed Washington to bleed him in every inning, throwing six or more pitches to 10 of the 18 batters he faced in the series-opener. He said:

“Outside of just battling and fighting, there wasn’t too much positive out there for me. They made me work, and the slider wasn’t very good today. That was allowing them to foul off a lot of pitches because everything was kind of the same speed, so the pitch-count got high. That was the story.”

At nearly 100 pitches, Bochy saw no need to risk injury to Samardzija so he pulled him, but he had a much more forgiving view of his starter’s performance:

“It’s pretty amazing what he did with the pitches that he logged, a lot of foul balls, a lot of deep counts there, but he kept it at one run, [which was] pretty impressive.”

Bochy gave the ball to Sam Coonrod to pitch the fifth, and the young lefty presided over a fifth inning that turned out to be the game’s biggest blight.

Coonrod introduced himself to the Nationals (59-53) by walking Trea Turner on four pitches. Then during an eight-pitch battle that Adam Eaton eventually won by drawing a walk, Turner stole second to further rattle Coonrod.

After finally recording an out on an Anthony Rendon ground out, Coonrod issued a third walk to Soto to load the bases. Then, with Adams at the plate, he balked Turner home.

But it only got worse from there. Just three innings after Pillar’s run-saving web-gem, Adams hit a can of corn out to centerfield that fell in right next to him for an RBI double to put the Nats ahead, 3-0.

Bochy said the twilight was a factor:

“It’s going to happen at that time of night. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t ever find that ball and once it got up toward the light he just couldn’t find it coming out of there. You’re hoping at some point he does, but he never saw it.”

The Nats added on one more in the ninth after Rendon stole home off rookie Sam Selman on a double-steal after Selman allowed back-to-back two-out singles to Rendon and Soto, but it was irrelevant. Unlike San Francisco, Washington had no problem keeping it together on the mound and they held the Giants scoreless through nine.

Washington righty Erick Fedde (W, 2-2, 4.20 ERA) pitched six innings on just 75 pitches, a feat that required three Giants arms and 147 pitches, and shut San Francisco out despite allowing six hits. He was pulled after going two-and-a-half times through the Giants order and the Nationals bullpen cut through San Francisco’s lineup just as easily.

Altogether the Giants stranded six runners and were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

Samardzija’s third-inning double was the only extra-base hit of the evening for San Francisco and despite moving to third on a two-out Mike Yastrzemski single, Buster Posey flied out to end the inning and the rally.

The Giants lost the last two series of their road trip before opening this homestand against Washington. Monday’s loss marks an inauspicious start to a series with a team currently in possession of their coveted second Wild Card spot, particularly as San Francisco show signs of not just falling back down to earth from their 19-6 July, but crashing.

But Bochy believes his pitchers just had an “off night” and he said the bats made hard contact and just ran into some hard luck with a bunch of “at-em balls”:

“You know you get in these [slumps] and then you gotta fight your way out of it. We felt good going into the game but we just couldn’t get things going, that’s all. We hit a couple balls hard, and you’re hoping that get’s us going but the balls were right at ’em tonight so it’s a tough night for the hitters, too.”

Up Next

Conner Menez (0-0, 3.60 ERA) was placed on the taxi squad Monday in preparation for his second major league start Tuesday in game two of three with the Nats. The rookie southpaw will face Washington right-hander Aníbal Sánchez (6-6, 3.80 ERA).

Menez tossed five strong in his no-decision against the Mets in late-July for his first big league start. He allowed two runs on three hits, two of them solo homers, with six strikeouts in the Giants 3-2 victory over New York.

Notes

Samardzija got his fourth hit of 2019 Monday, a double down the left-field line that went all the way back to the wall. It’s his second double this year…Bochy said he expects Alex Dickerson, who was placed on the 10-day IL Thursday for a right oblique strain, back by the time his stint on the 10-day IL is up on Sunday.


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