Jeff Samardzija earns first win in a year as Giants squeeze past Rockies

Kevin Pillar hits third home run in four games to back a Jeff Samardzija gem

ORACLE PARK — Jeff Samardzija was all smiles in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse after Thursday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night, and rightfully so.

Not only did he have a solid outing on the mound to earn his first win of the season, and not only did the Giants squeeze past Colorado on a Kevin Pillar solo home run, the win is more monumental than all of that, at least for Samardzija.

The win is Samardzija’s first in over a year.

“Today was a good day,” he said after the game. “It’s a constant work, but when you get nights like that tonight, it kind of gives you a little more energy to keep doing what you’re doing, to keep going.”

Samardzija missed a majority of last year with a shoulder injury and Thursday night marked his first win since his first start of last year, when the Giants then beat the Angels 8-1 on April 20, 2018.

Thursday night against Colorado, Samardzija tossed seven strong innings on the mound, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. He didn’t face too many obstacles on the night, either.

The only danger Samardzija handled was in the fifth inning, with Rockies second baseman Garrett Hampson on second with one out. Samardzija got Tony Wolters to ground out to second and struck out Rockies pitcher Jon Gray to end the inning. He retired the last eight straight batters he faced.

“Last year was not a great year for me, but I learned a lot,” Samardzija added. “When you do go out there and feel good, you don’t take it for granted and you just kind of take that same approach that you had before.”

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy noted Samardzija’s change from a pure power pitcher to a more complete pitcher.

“He was on top of his game,” Bochy said. “I think he’s definitely mixing up his pitches a little bit more. He’s not a guy who’s trying to power his way through the lineup. He uses both sides of the plate with the fastball and helps set up the other pitches … He just, really did a beautiful job of pitching tonight. It was fun to watch.”

The lineup, on the other hand, struggled yet again. For the second night in a row, the Giants mustered just one run and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Despite the offensive struggles, Samardzija’s and Bochy’s patience paid off in the bottom of the seventh inning when Pillar hit a moon shot of a home run into left-center to put San Francisco up 1-0. The home run was Pillar’s third of the young season, all coming in the past four games.

“He’s been great for us,” Samarzija said of Pillar. “I love playing with him out there, he was a great addition for the squad and he plays like that all the time.”

Pillar has driven in a run in each of his last four games, driving in a total of 10 in that span.

“We got an experienced, not just outfielder but a really good center fielder, an elite center fielder and a guy with some pop,” Bochy said. “This park is more of a pitchers’ park, but he’s shown that if he squares up and can hit it well, it’ll go out. Where he hit that ball, on a cold night, that’s pretty impressive.”

The Giants will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season in the second game of the four-game weekend series as Drew Pomeranz takes the mound for the Giants against Chad Bettis.

How Deebo Samuel’s wizardry helped Niners turn season around

Team hoping its most versatile offensive weapon can overcome injury soon

By Al Saracevic
How the Warriors use data, analytics to engineer more wins

‘It is a new Moneyball’

By Jeff Elder
Warriors’ Jordan Poole filling Klay Thompson’s big shoes

Shooting guard helping Golden State maintain its hot start

By John Krolik