ORACLE PARK — The San Francisco Giants’ performance in Jeff Samardzija’s 27th start was a striking microcosm of the team’s 2019 season.
Staked to a 1-0 lead for the majority of Samardzija’s five innings, the Giants could do very little with the bats to back the right-hander’s seventh straight outing in which he allowed two or fewer runs.
The sum of Samardzija’s brilliance and the offense’s ineptitude was a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a defeat that pushed the Giants to 5 1/2 games back of the second National League wild card even as manager Bruce Bochy insisted that bringing up rookies Mauricio Dubon and Tyler Rogers was not waving the white flag.
Once again, Samardzija (9-10, 3.38 ERA) was a workhorse, hurling five one-run innings before leaving the game with the score knotted at 1-1. The lone run he allowed came on a solo home run by Ketel Marte, one of just three hits ceded by Samardzija – although he also walked three batters.
“Just taking a mentality to win the game,” Samardzija said of his approach. “Not necessarily worrying about innings pitched but just worrying about throwing up zeroes and keeping our team in it. It’s just clicked for me over here the last few weeks.”
Another solid outing for the right-hander proved inconsequential, as the Giants scored three runs or fewer for the 63rd time in 2019 — accounting for nearly half the team’s 132 games.
For Samardzija, the lack of run support isn’t new. Although he owns the lowest ERA out of all San Francisco starters and the fifth-lowest in the majors (1.99) since July 1, the Giants are just a game above .500 (14-13) in his starts.
“I can’t say enough about how he’s thrown the ball,” Bochy said. “It’s tough luck when you throw like that and you can’t get runs. He did what he can do and that’s go out there and give us a chance to win.”
In five August starts totaling 29 1/3 innings, Samardzija posted a 1.84 ERA, but the Giants went 2-3 and were shut out twice.
“There’s no frustration at all,” Samardzija said. “Everyone’s coming to play the game, everyone’s playing hard. These guys are prepared. I really like where our team is at. I’m just waiting for us to get hot.”
Arizona right-hander Mike Leake entered the game with a 4.77 ERA and an 8.02 ERA in four starts for the Diamondbacks since being acquired on July 31.
Against the Giants, he looked like former Arizona ace Zack Grienke, logging 7 1/3 one-run innings while only giving up four hits. From the third to the eighth, Leake retired 11 straight batters before a one-out walk to Mike Yastrzemski.
San Francisco struck first on a first-inning RBI single from Stephen Vogt, who knocked in Brandon Belt from third with two outs. Vogt came to the plate in another first-and-third two-out situation in the third, but grounded out to first to end the inning.
The Diamondbacks then scored a run in three straight innings from the fifth to the seventh, with Marte’s home run (he came up lame rounding second, and left the game), and RBI singles by Adam Jones and Christian Walker to take a 3-1 lead. The latter two runs came off relievers Sam Coonrod – who recorded the first loss of his career – and Reyes Moronta, after Samardzija departed.
The Giants (65-67) had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth after a Brandon Belt RBI double and an Evan Longoria walk left runners on first and second with one out, but Alex Dickerson lined into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch he saw to quell the San Francisco rally.
“We have not played as well at home as we should,” Bochy said. “You try to explain it but you really can’t. Really it’s hard to make sense of it.”
Sidewinder Tyler Rogers made his major league debut in the top of the eighth, retiring all three men he faced on 11 pitches, featuring a low-80s fastball with a lot of movement that induced three ground balls. His debut — made while his twin brother Taylor pitched for the Minnesota Twins — made the Rogers brothers the 10th pair of twins to play in the Major Leagues.