Clayton Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

SAN FRANCISCO — In three plate appearances against the best pitcher in the world, Kelby Tomlinson had a homer, single and walk. He also made a spectacular play up the middle that ranks as one of his best as a big leaguer. 

“It was a little bit of Tommy-ball tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Tomlinson was not able to fully enjoy his night. The Giants weren’t able to celebrate him, either. Tomlinson’s game also included one of several defensive mistakes the Giants made behind Johnny Cueto, and they never recovered. Clayton Kershaw got the first 18 outs and Kenley Jansen got the final four as the Dodgers edged the Giants 5-3, ending their 11-game losing streak. 

The Dodgers officially clinched a postseason spot after two weeks of confusion. The Giants officially became the first MLB team to 90 losses. 

Three plays stood out as the Giants fell behind 4-1. Hunter Pence drifted toward a pop-up to shallow right and watched as it dropped behind Joe Panik. That misplay cost Cueto 10 grueling pitches on a night when he felt like his old self. An inning later, Austin Slater whiffed on Kershaw’s liner to left that turned into a double. Tomlinson tried to get Kershaw at third on an ensuing grounder, but his throw was wide. Kershaw would come around to score, and the Dodgers would tack on two more. 

The sequence taught two lessons … 

First of all, the official scorekeeping rules are dumb. Neither ball to the outfield was ruled an error, and despite getting what should have been four outs in the fourth, Cueto was charged with four earned runs. 

The second lesson: “You’re going against one of the elite pitchers in the game,” Bochy said. “With somebody as good as Kershaw, you’ve got to play your best ball, and we didn’t do that.”

The Giants rarely have this season. The 90-loss year is their first since 2008 and it has included so many nights like this one. There was plenty of good, but the bad moments outweighed the highlights. Tomlinson was left shaking his head after what could have been a career night. 

“I really wanted to get that one,” he said of the missed out at third. “I tried to make a play and it didn’t work out. It makes it tough when you look back at the end of the game.”

The Dodgers are in such a tailspin that they didn’t even realize they had clinched a postseason spot until after their postgame handshake line. MLB’s computers did more work during the game and realized that their previously stated tiebreaker scenarios were off. 

“We’re in the postseason?” Dave Roberts asked Dodgers reporters. 

The Giants have known for months that they won't be. They are playing spoiler, and they missed an opportunity to add a little more pain to a brutal September for their rivals. A clear single to right and two infield singles to the mound loaded the bases against Jansen in the ninth, but Buster Posey swung through a cutter right down the heart of the plate and Nick Hundley struck out for the 10th time in 10 career at-bats against Jansen. 

What Jeff Samardzija has in common with Kershaw, Lester and Sale

What Jeff Samardzija has in common with Kershaw, Lester and Sale

SAN DIEGO — After Monday night’s win, Jeff Samardzija noted that his favorite pitchers growing up were the ones who would throw 130-plus pitches and then come back on short rest and do it again. He said he fondly remembers watching CC Sabathia go on three days rest three consecutive times in 2008 to drag the Brewers into the playoffs. 

Samardzija, then, will enjoy looking at a particular leaderboard on Tuesday. He woke up as the National League’s leader in innings (176 2/3) after shutting out the Padres. The complete game was just the third of the season for the Giants, and per Elias, it put Samardzija in a select group. He joined Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester and Chris Sale as the only pitchers with at least one complete game in each of the last six seasons. 

“It just means I’m a workhorse, I guess,” Samardzija said of leading the league in innings. “It shows you’re a professional. It shows you did your work in the offseason. Your season goes two ways in September. (You can) stay on the gas and take advantage of these hitters who have 600 at-bats under their belt and maybe aren’t feeling great. You’ve got to pick and choose what you do, and I like to pride myself on mental toughness.”

Samardzija’s shutout was the second by the Giants this year. Ty Blach blanked the Phillies on June 2. The other complete game was Madison Bumgarner’s eight-inning loss here at Petco Park in April. 

Bumgarner was second in the NL last season with 226 2/3 innings last year. He won’t get close this year, but Samardzija is on pace for 214, which would give him a fifth consecutive 200-inning season.