Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' loss to Rockies in slugfest

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' loss to Rockies in slugfest


DENVER — A 93-degree night at Coors Field is an absolute nightmare for pitchers, and Friday night’s action certainly lived up to expectations. 

The Giants and Rockies combined for five homers, including a go-ahead three-run shot by Ian Desmond in the fifth. The Giants played sloppy defense from there, costing themselves a couple of crucial late-inning runs in a 10-8 loss. 

The Giants have dropped four straight and 13 of their last 17. Yikes. Anyway, here are five things to know so you can impress the person next to you at the bar on this Friday night … 

--- Samardzija is one of the few pitchers who can go toe-to-toe with Madison Bumgarner in batting practice, so it’s actually kind of a surprise that it took him 46 starts as a Giant to go deep. Samardzija hit a two-run blast in the fifth, his third in the big leagues and first since 2013. The ball went an estimated 446 feet and was the longest homer by a pitcher since Statcast started tracking them three years ago. It was also longer than any of Bumgarner’s in-game blasts. 

--- Samardzija screamed as he crossed the plate. The good vibes didn’t last long. The Rockies got two runs back right away and then three more on Desmond’s two-out homer. The ball looked to be a flyout to right, but kept carrying in classic Coors Field fashion. A livid Samardzija stormed off the field at the end of the inning. He was charged with eight runs. 

--- The Giants have taken a big step back defensively, and nowhere are the problems as glaring as in right field. Hunter Pence had a brutal stretch in the seventh as the Rockies tacked in three runs. He couldn’t catch up with a bloop to shallow right-center and also came up short on a liner to deep right-center. Both could have been outs. In between, a single bounced off his glove, allowing a runner to score all the way from first. 

--- Bruce Bochy took his first ejection of the year after Samardzija walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh. Ball four was right on the inside edge of the strike zone and Samardzija pointed at home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom. When Cederstrom started walking toward the mound, Nick Hundley got in the way and then Bochy came out to have a few heated words. 

--- Joe Panik had a homer and two doubles. He raised his slugging percentage 29 points in one night.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”