Instant Replay: Four-run first dooms Samardzija, Giants drop fifth straight

Instant Replay: Four-run first dooms Samardzija, Giants drop fifth straight


NEW YORK — Buster Posey hit a soaring home run for the second straight day, and by the end of Monday’s game, he was sitting on a .362/.439/.532 slash line. 

That just about does it for the positives. 

Playing just a few minutes after they put their closer, the significant acquisition of the offseason, on the disabled list, the Giants once again came out flat. They gave up five early runs to the Mets and lost 6-1, falling for the fifth consecutive day. With one game left before the flight home, they sit at 2-6 on the trip and 11-23 overall. 

Given the lack of offense on most nights, this one was pretty much over in the first. Jeff Samardzija gave up five hits and four runs, although the back-breaker wasn’t his fault. With two on, Neil Walker hit a liner to left that Eduardo Nuñez whiffed on. It went for a two-run triple instead of an out, and two hits later in the inning would tack on. 

The Giants did nothing against Zack Wheeler, their former top prospect who was shipped to New York six years ago in the Carlos Beltran deal. Wheeler, 26, allowed just two hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out four. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija settled in after the first, but the damage was done. His line: 7 innings, 10 hits, 6 earned runs, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts. 

Bullpen report: Mark Melancon was put on the DL just before first pitch with a right pronator strain. More to come.

At the plate: Posey has homers in back-to-back games for the first time since the first week of July in 2015. 

In the field: Nuñez had been worth negative-two Defensive Runs Saved in left field this season coming into the game. It’s here that we’ll note that Mac Williamson has homered for Triple-A Sacramento on back-to-back days. 

Attendance: Citi Field was about a quarter full. The locals aren’t exactly thrilled with a team that entered the week with a losing record and an ace on the back pages of the tabloids. 

Up next: Matt Cain will try to turn back into April Matt Cain. He’ll face Rafael Montero, who has a 10.45 ERA.

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.”