AT&T PARK — An old and all-too-familiar menace stung Jeff Samardzija as the sun shone down on a 60-degree afternoon in China Basin on Wednesday.
With the San Francisco Giants already staring at a 3-1 deficit against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Matt Adams, the Washington Nationals lumbering first baseman, strode to the plate in the top of the fourth. Adams proceeded to send a 92-mph Samardzija four-seam fastball onto the arcade atop the brick archways.
One swing and 365 feet later, a two-run deficit stretched into a five-run divide.
“It’s one of those games that started off rough and gradually got worse,” manager Bruce Bochy said after the 15-2 loss.
The longball — especially the back-breaking, three-run variety — has long been the scourge of Samardzija.
Last year, the starter surrendered six such shots. Samardzija allowed 30 overall — fifth most in the National League — in 32 starts. He was tagged for a more manageable 24 in 2016, his debut season with the Giants.
Samardzija’s outing, his second of the year after a pectoral strain delayed the start of his season, did not lost long, ending with Adams towering shot.
“We’re going out there, trying to do our work and sometimes there’s other plans,” Samardzija said. “So, we’re going to keep doing our thing and go back out there and be ready for the next one.”
The right-hander worked 3.2 innings, letting in six runs on eight hits and three walks. Bochy and a trainer actually went out to check on Samardzija with two outs in the first after three runs had crossed the plate. After the game, Samardzija seemed surprised not just to be asked about the visit but that it had even been made.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Samardzija said. “But they’re just looking out for me. So, no harm no foul. They’re just doing their jobs, too.”
The bullpen fared just as poorly as the club’s season-high three-game win streak came to a close. The Nats torched a collection of four relievers for nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits as the lopsided matinee spiraled out of control.
“What? Six innings we gave up crooked numbers,” Bochy said. “Scherzer, I thought, early we were having some pretty good at bats but his stuff picked up, too. And he started hitting his spots better. And the overall stuff, I thought, got better.”
The loss also brought to an end the Giants run of seven consecutive games with a homer.
Brandon Belt, who continues his excellent week, nearly kept it going, sending a booming double into the right-center field alley in the sixth. With his 2-for-4 day, Belt is now hitting .417, with five home runs, in the last seven games.
The Giants were without their other recent bright spot — Mac Williamson — who has three homers in five games since arriving from Triple-A. Williamson was in the original lineup, but was removed just before first pitch after crashing into the bullpen on Tuesday night.
“He had a stiff neck. So we scratched him and [we’re] off [Thursday],” Bochy said. “I think he’ll be playing [Friday]. So, we just wanted to give him a break.”