Chris Stratton overwhelms Padres, has longest start of his career


Chris Stratton overwhelms Padres, has longest start of his career

SAN DIEGO — When it was all over and the Giants gathered on the mound for handshakes and back pats after a 7-0 win over the Padres, some of them started to understand how strange the starting pitcher’s line actually was. 

Chris Stratton allowed one hit in seven innings, and it was a pinch-hit single by starting pitcher Clayton Richard, who was batting only because Bryan Mitchell had struggled so badly that he didn’t even make it to his first plate appearance. Richard became the first player since Pittsburgh’s Mace Brown in 1935 to enter the game as a reliever and get his team’s only hit. 

“I thought he had the day off,” Stratton deadpanned. 

The odd and historic feat by Richard kept Stratton from chasing his own moment with the record books. He walked three, but other than that it was cruise control, a 101 pitch masterpiece that could have been more. Giants starters do, after all, have a history with these Padres. 

Bruce Bochy later said he would have let Stratton go pretty deep to chase a no-hitter. Instead this was just a seven-inning one-hitter, but that still carried significance. Stratton had on three previous occasions thrown 6 2/3 innings, but he had never recorded that 21st out. Going back to spring training, he has talked of getting deeper into games. On this night he became the first Giants starter this season to throw 100 pitches, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The Giants had two players make their MLB debuts on the last turn for the rotation, and the bullpen, Bochy said, was gassed. 

“When you look at the staff, we’ve had to put some young kids in there and now (Stratton) is one of our (main) guys,” Bochy said. “He was coming in as the No. 4 starter, and now it makes him the No. 1 guy. And he can do that. He can handle that. I think he’s ready to take that on as far as getting us deeper into games.”

Stratton had one wobble, walking two in the fifth, but he won a 12-pitch battle with Austin Hedges and emerged from that inning to retire six straight over the final two frames. When he was done, Stratton lowered his season ERA to 2.60 in three starts. In 12 starts since sliding into the rotation full-time last August, he has a 2.47 ERA. Those are not the numbers of a No. 4 starter. 

“He is more than that,” Bochy said, nodding. “He’s just been so consistent with all four of his pitches and with his command. His stuff is better than it shows.”

The Padres found that out over seven innings. Perhaps it's understandable, then, that Richard was the one to get the hit. He didn’t have time to prepare and then be surprised by the carry on Stratton’s fastball, the spin of his curveball, or the depth of his slider. 

“It’s just part of the game,” Stratton said. “That was a good swing by him.”

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ten minutes into his start Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija got a mound visit from manager Bruce Bochy and a member of the training staff. 

His fastball was sitting 89-91 at the time, and given that Samardzija is just two starts removed from a DL stint for a strained pectoral, the concern was understandable. 

"He's fine. We just wanted to check on him at that point," Bochy said. "He said he was fine and as you saw his stuff picked up, which you see sometimes from starting pitchers."

Samardzija did get back to the 93-94 range by the third, which is still a couple ticks from normal for him, but at least isn't concerning. He didn't make it to the fourth, though. A Matt Adams homer put the last three of six runs on his line.

"Just one of those days," Samardzija said. "I've been feeling really good. It just took a little longer today (to get loose). There's really no explanation for it sometimes.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a different script for me right now (coming off the injury). We're going to learn from it and keep getting better and get on to the next one." 

A few Giants need to move on quickly after this one. Josh Osich, coming off a sparkling spring, continued to backslide at the worst possible time. The Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Will Smith next week. Osich was charged with four earned runs. Cory Gearrin walked two of three he faced and cashed in two of Osich's runners. He, too, has fallen down the depth chart a bit.

"They're not on track. O really had some good moments today, lots of swings and misses, but also had trouble getting the ball where he wanted at times," Bochy said. "Cory is battling too much right now instead of going out there and attacking the strike zone. This game is all about confidence and if they get shaken a bit they don't throw the ball with as much conviction."

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO — In the 19 hours since Bruce Bochy first tweeted* he has picked up 15,000 followers. 

“Is that a lot?” he asked Wednesday morning.

It is, but don't expect many tweets from the 63-year-old manager now also known as @BruceBochy1 (@BruceBochy was taken). Bochy does not plan to send out lineups or respond to your complaint about Buster Posey getting a game off the day after a night game. He will not answer you if you scream about Gorkys Hernandez being in center. He does not plan to join the #BeltWars. 

“I’m not going to be on it a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m going to use it with charities and things like that. I don’t plan to use it every day.”

(*It’s here that we should stop and note that Bochy’s first tweet was sent when the Giants were taking batting practice Tuesday and the manager was standing behind the cage watching. But let’s have fun with it.)

Bochy tweeted “great win tonight” after the Giants beat the Nationals on Tuesday and he promoted an event he is doing with our own Amy Gutierrez at the New Balance store after Wednesday’s game. You can expect similar when he does one of the many charity events that he participates in during off days and before occasional home games. 

Bochy smiled Wednesday when told that close friend Tim Flannery gave him two weeks before he deletes his account. 

“If (followers) tweet bad things I’m going to tweet back ‘love harder,’” he said, referencing Flannery’s own charity work. 

--- Mac Williamson was a late scratch from the lineup a day after a brutal collision with the wall alongside the home bullpen. Bochy said Williamson had “general soreness” and he was officially pulled with neck stiffness. The Giants have not had any recent discussions about moving the bullpen mounds, in part because there's no space left at the ballpark. Although Bochy noted that some of his hitters would gladly tell the team to put it in Triples Alley. 

--- Chris Stratton is back home in Mississippi for the birth of his second child. His wife, Martha Kate, has gone into labor. Stratton is expected back in time to start Saturday’s day game, with Johnny Cueto getting the night game against the Dodgers. 

Roberto Gomez was called up to take Stratton’s spot, since Stratton was put on the paternity list. Gomez likely will stay Saturday as the 26th man for the doubleheader.