AT&T PARK — As the San Francisco Giants barrel toward an inglorious footnote in the franchise’s record book, nobody feels much like talking about the specter of 100.
Since 1883, when tobacco magnate John B. Day founded the then New York Gothams, the team has reached triple digits in the loss column on one occasion when the 1985 squad hit the century mark on the dot.
Entering Tuesday night’s game with the Colorado Rockies, the current iteration of the Giants needed to close out 2017 with a 5-6 record to avoid becoming the second member of the 100-loss club in year No. 135.
Scanning the clubhouse at AT&T Park, no Giant is better suited to discuss the delicate topic than Jeff Samardzija. He’s been here before, living through the Chicago Cubs’ 101-loss slog in 2012.
Reclining in his executive chair in front of his locker, NFL Sunday action playing on the clubhouse TVs, Samardzija looks as relaxed as ever. He’s quick to insist that the standings are weighing him down as the season draws to a close.
“I don’t think as players you look at the overall until it’s done,” Samardzija explained. “I think every day you show up and try to win that game and losing any games is not what you want.”
Wrapping up his 10th big league season and his second as a Giant, Samardzija has wasted no time pivoting into full-on cliché mode.
“The overall amount of losses isn’t necessarily what you’re worried about,” Samardzija continued. “As a professional you come in to show up every day and do your job that day and try to win that ballgame that day.”
He points out that as a member of the team’s rotation, he doesn’t get the chance to impact the game on a day-to-day basis. Until, finally, the Shark is willing to bite.
“I don’t think any extra motivation should be to not lose 100 games,” Samardzija said. “You should have the motivation there every day to show up and win that game and that should be the most important thing.”
Across the room, Hunter Pence, the resident clubhouse philosopher, has lived through the daily drudgery. He’s also a one-man microcosm of the Giants, who — in a season — went from contender to painfully bad.
The two-time World Series winner, who’s posting his worst full season as a Giant across the board, steers well wide of the topic when asked about the potential of losing 100 games.
“You just stay locked into the process,” Pence said, “and go out there and give it everything you’ve got.”
Pence, the $18.5-million right fielder who’s hit 11 home runs, says the mindset amid the current malaise is comparable to that of postseason runs past.
“Even when we’re in the playoff race, it’s the same thing,” Pence said. “You get out there, stretch your potential, grow each day and stay locked into the moment.”
Pence isn’t joking about the locked in part. Even as a back ailment kept him out of the lineup on Sunday, the outfielder was still in the game.
In the midst of a six-inning pitching change, Pence was perched along the top rail of the dugout, directing an impromptu meeting with hitting coach Hensley Meulens and pinch-hitter Mac Williamson.
Pence is big on zeroing in on the moment — rather than allowing the larger picture to overwhelm him.
“I would say [that’s true] in all things in life — not just baseball,” Pence said. “If you’re too worried about things that could go wrong …. obviously you’re setting intention and forging forward, but you’ve got to be locked into the process and focused on learning and growing from what happened yesterday and then taking that and being the best you can today, having an approach and trusting it.”
For future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy, 2017 is on the verge of becoming the worst season — from a win-loss perspective — that he’s ever presided over.
Bochy has already lost more games than in any of his previous 10 seasons with the orange and black. His club’s MLB-worst 58-93 mark has dropped his career record under .500 (1847-1850).
Only have the 2002 and 2003 San Diego Padres, losers of 96 and 98 respectively, remain as worse potential finishes on his 23-year ledger.
Matt Moore, who owns the worst ERA in the National League, has been Bochy’s most disappointing charge. After the left-hander’s most recent start, which resulted in his 14th loss, Moore succinctly summed up not just his night, but the club’s historically bad 2017.
“It’s just not fun,” Moore said. “Winning cures everything and we haven’t done a whole lot of that this year.”