Jeff Samardzija

How Giants' Bruce Bochy mixed and matched, got back to .500 vs. Dodgers

How Giants' Bruce Bochy mixed and matched, got back to .500 vs. Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't ever appear all that comfortable when handed a bottle of celebratory wine or a certificate for a free fishing trip. He's equally squirmy when asked if this is really his final month. 

Bochy made up his mind and announced his decision in the spring, but that hasn't kept reporters from prying for the last six months. On Friday, a couple of hours before he would take on the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bochy was once again asked if this is actually it. 

"I know there's lots of things I'll miss," he said. "Right now I'm good with it. I'm not questioning anything I've done as far as stepping down or when I made my decision. I'm comfortable with it."

He's not, however, comfortable with simply riding off into the sunset for a team that won't make the postseason. Bochy intends to go down fighting, and as he watched his players take batting practice, he talked of how difficult it is to lose a game, any game. Dropping three of four in St. Louis in that fashion weighed on him. 

But in Friday's 5-4 win over the Dodgers, Bochy showed he still knows plenty about leading his group to that 27th out. Two sequences stood out: 

--- Buster Posey is having a down year and already had left five on base when he came up with two on in the fifth. Dave Roberts still elected to intentionally walk the catcher, setting right-hander Dylan Floro up to face Joey Rickard. Except Bochy immediately called for Mike Yastrzemski, who hit for Rickard and lined a two-run double into the gap. 

It was just as strange when the Dodgers chose to intentionally walk struggling first baseman Brandon Belt, who pinch-hit for Aramis Garcia. Mauricio Dubon stepped up and poked a two-run single. 

--- With Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon gone and Trevor Gott and Reyes Moronta hurt, the Giants do not have a seventh-inning man. But Bochy sent Tyler Rogers up there with a two-run lead and the submarining rookie got through A.J. Pollock, Will Smith and Chris Taylor. 

Tony Watson was unavailable a couple of days after hurting his wrist, so Bochy mixed and matched in the eighth, with Fernando Abad getting Kiké Hernandez and Corey Seager before Jandel Gustave entered to retire Justin Turner. 

On paper, the Giants should have been thoroughly overmatched in the late innings, but they found a way to get a lead to Will Smith by using three pitchers who spent nearly the entire year in Triple-A. 

"We're beat up in the bullpen," Bochy said. "We're asking guys to pitch in some high-leverage situations and you've got to like the way they've handled themselves."

[RELATED: Will Smith strikes out Will Smith to end Giants' win in LA]

Watching from the clubhouse, Jeff Samardzija liked what he saw from the top step. The night's starter noted that Bochy has had an inconsistent rotation and lost most his bullpen.

"I think this honestly, since I've been here, is one of Bochy's best years," Samardzija said. 

It's ending soon, but there's work to be done, both for the team and the manager. Bochy got to 1,994 wins for his career with 219 coming against the Dodgers. He's now an even 118-118 against them since coming to the Giants with five more matchups to go. 

Giants' Dereck Rodriguez builds confidence; Johnny Cueto suffers setback

Giants' Dereck Rodriguez builds confidence; Johnny Cueto suffers setback

The Giants aren't going to the playoffs this season, that much is clear. Tuesday's 1-0 road loss to the St. Louis Cardinals dropped San Francisco to six games below .500, with 24 left to play.

Next season offers considerably more optimism. The Giants should enter the season with an established outfield of Mike Yastrzemski, Kevin Pillar and Alex Dickerson, and some of the prospects they acquired at the trade deadline already have contributed at the major-league level, or are expected to do so soon.

But if San Francisco is going to compete for a playoff spot, it will need more pitching performances like the one it got from Dereck Rodriguez on Tuesday at Busch Stadium.

Over seven innings, Rodriguez limited the red-hot Cardinals to just five hits and one run while striking out seven. He's penciled into next season's rotation, but starts like that should provide some much-needed confidence heading into what will be an important spring training for the 27-year-old right-hander.

"It's been an up-and-down year for him, and that's including going from here to Sacramento," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Rodriguez, who fell to 5-8 with a 5.15 ERA after the tough-luck loss. "I'm sure he'd like to finish strong. I think it would be very big for him.

"He looked very determined tonight. Good bounce-back off a tough start and, I mean, he really pitched well. 

"Yeah, I think it would be important for him as he goes into the offseason to pitch well this month."

[RELATED: Watch Cardinals' foul ball somehow spin fair vs. Giants]

In terms of next year's Giants rotation, Jeff Samardzija is a lock. Madison Bumgarner is too, if he's re-signed (duh). Logan Webb has looked great over his first three starts and isn't going anywhere. Tyler Beede has a live arm, but he needs to get more consistent. And then there's always the possibility of a free-agent addition or two.

Rodriguez' strong showing against the Cardinals wasn't the only development that could have a considerable impact on San Francisco's rotation next year, although it was the most positive. Bay Area News Group's Kerry Crowley reported that Johnny Cueto experienced back tightness after throwing a bullpen session earlier in the day, and he's no longer expected to pitch against the Dodgers later this week. 

Cueto is coming off Tommy John surgery and will turn 34 in February. He's under contract for two more seasons at $21 million per, with a club option in 2022. Tuesday's setback doesn't mean the Giants can't count on having Cueto in the rotation moving forward, but if Rodriguez can maintain the form he showed against the Cardinals, that won't be as big of a concern.

Giants vs. D-Backs lineups: Jeff Samardzija looks to continue hot streak

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Giants vs. D-Backs lineups: Jeff Samardzija looks to continue hot streak

Just a week after winning a four-game series in Phoenix, the Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks at Oracle Park to wrap up a midweek two-game series.

One of the Giants top prospects could potentially make his MLB debut, as the organization called up Mauricio Dubon on Tuesday afternoon. Dubon has been slashing .323/.391/.485 in 112 plate appearances across the minor leagues since coming over in a trade with the Brewers for Ray Black and Drew Pomeranz.

Jeff Samardzija takes the hill for the Giants, and the Shark has been on a tear of late. Since July 1, Samardzija is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA and an outstanding 0.86 WHIP.

The 34-year-old has faced the D-Backs 20 times in his career, compiling a 4-5 record with a 4.33 ERA.

Opposite Samardzija will be Mike Leake, who was dealt to Arizona on at the MLB trade deadline from the Seattle Mariners. The former top-10 pick briefly was a Giant himself, acquired in 2015 in exchange for Adam Duvall and Keury Mella. 

[RELATED: Giants' Johnny Cueto set for final Triple-A start before likely return]

Leake has a favorable record inside China Basin, as he is 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 games at Oracle Park.

Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. PT with Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming on the My Teams app.

Arizona Diamondbacks (66-66)
LF Jarrod Dyson
CF Ketel Marte
2B Eduardo Escobar
1B Christian Walker
3B Jake Lamb
RF Adam Jones
SS Nick Ahmed
C Alex Avila
RHP Mike Leake (9-10, 4.77 ERA)

San Francisco Giants (65-66)
RF Mike Yastrzemski
1B Brandon Belt
3B Evan Longoria
LF Alex Dickerson
C Stephen Vogt
CF Kevin Pillar
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Donovan Solano
RHP Jeff Samardzija (9-10, 3.44 ERA)