The 123rd and final pitch that Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija threw Sunday afternoon was a fastball that, according to the stadium radar gun, came in at 95 mph. It promptly left the bat of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado at 105 mph, according to MLB’s tracking technology, for a double to left field.
Such was the afternoon for Samardzija, who bulled his way into the eighth inning and matched his season high of nine strikeouts but received no offensive support and surrendered two runs in a 2-0 loss, with Arenado, a Giants nemesis, having a hand in both.
“That’s a tough loss for him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Samardzija, whose 123 pitches were the second most he has thrown in a major-league game. “He pitched great. He pitched his heart out. He’s got the ability to maintain his stuff for that many pitches and did a great job saving our bullpen. We just couldn’t get it going offensively.”
The Rockies’ offense got going in the first inning, as Trevor Story doubled and Arenado hit a two-out triple that bounced off the base of the wall in right-center field. Two innings later, Colorado strung together three two-out singles for another run – taking advantage of the Giants’ infield shifts.
Carlos Gonzalez hit a slow chopper to the left side on which Brandon Crawford, shifted toward second base against the left-handed hitter, had no play. Arenado shot an outside fastball into the area vacated by second baseman Joe Panik, who was playing behind the bag. Gerardo Parra’s blooper then fell into shallow left field, scoring Gonzalez.
Arenado said the middle of the Colorado lineup in the third “shortened up and did what we had to do to get a run in.”
Samardzija credited the Rockies with being “smart hitters.”
“I threw them a couple of balls away, they went with ’em, and they got me in some trouble,” Samardzija said.
Samardzija retired 10 consecutive hitters after Parra’s single, striking out six, and came out for the eighth inning at 113 pitches. He retired Story and Gonzalez – the latter on a running catch by Gregor Blanco in center field – before Arenado struck again, lacing his double to left to chase Samardzija.
“He’s tough; he’s real tough,” Arenado said of Samardzija. “The stuff, he has a lot of movement. And he’s a competitor. He came back out for that eighth inning with (113) pitches, so he’s a horse. Luckily we got a couple runs off him, but we battled.”
Arenado, meanwhile, continues to win his share of battles against Giants pitching. In this four-game series at AT&T Park, which the teams split, Arenado went 6 for 15 with four extra-base hits and four RBIs. Over his last 18 games against the Giants, the majors’ current home run leader is batting .438 (32 for 73) with 34 RBIs.
“He’s a tough hitter, man,” Samardzija said of Arenado. “He’s on top of the plate, he knows he can handle the ball inside, and he hits off-speed pitches in the zone real well. So take your pick what you want to do. Best bet (is) just keeping him off balance, and hopefully you keep it off the sweet spot of the barrel and you get him out.”
Hunter Pence collected three hits Sunday, and Brandon Belt had two singles, but the rest of the Giants’ lineup managed only one hit, a leadoff single from Blanco in the first. Blanco stole second but was picked off trying to steal third. Belt was thrown out on an attempted steal in the fourth inning.
The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Mac Williamson struck out swinging against Rockies starter Eddie Butler, and Samardzija went down looking. A day after being held scoreless until the 10th inning of a 13-inning win, the Giants were shut out for the second time this season.
“That’s two games in a row we’ve been shut out for nine; I didn’t see that coming with this offense,” Bochy said. “We’re in, I guess, a little rut the last couple days with the bats. We’ve got to get them going.”
Williamson struck out with a runner on third to end the seventh inning. Another culprit was Buster Posey, who came up with two on and two outs in the eighth inning and flied out to right field against Rockies reliever Chad Qualls. Batting with men in scoring position this season, Posey is 5- for 31 (.161) with seven RBIs, and he’s hitless in his last 13 at-bats overall after a 9-for-14 stretch.
“I think it’s fair to say the last few games he’s out of sync,” Bochy said. “He was hot there, and he’s just not seeing the ball as well as he normally does.
“A game like this, you need a timely hit. We couldn’t get it. We had a couple chances there, two or three, and couldn’t get a big hit.”