Giants continue to tumble, Samardzija goes five innings in return to the mound

Giants continue to tumble, Samardzija goes five innings in return to the mound


SAN FRANCISCO — The other night, when asked about Johnny Cueto’s return to the rotation, manager Bruce Bochy paused before noting, “It was okay.” 

The same could be said of Jeff Samardzija’s return on Saturday. 

Samaradzija was not particularly sharp, but his stuff was not really concerning, either, coming off a long layoff because of shoulder soreness. He gave up three runs in five innings on a quiet day at AT&T Park. It was okay. The Giants right now, are not. They lost 3-2 to the Cardinals, dropping to 1-5 in the week after a sweep of the Diamondbacks. This is a weird team, the very definition of .500. Here's what you need to know from Day 3 with the Cardinals ... 

— Samardzija gave up seven hits, but only one went for extra bases, which was a positive sign. That one was kind of a killer, though. Opposing pitcher Carlos Martinez bounced a double over Pablo Sandoval’s head to bring the first run in. The Cardinals got four singles in the fourth while scoring two more.

— Samardzija hit 93 mph a couple times in the first inning, a step up from his previous stint in the rotation this year, when he had trouble getting loose early in games. But the velocity still wasn’t quite where it has been in the past. Samardzija threw two fastballs above 94 mph but the rest were in the low 90s. He averaged 92.7 mph with his sinker, a tick up from 92.4 earlier in the season, but just 91.3 mph with his four-seamer. 

— Austin Jackson pinch-hit with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh. He struck out. Jackson is 3-for-18 as a pinch-hitter this season with nine strikeouts. 

— Jordan Hicks, a rookie who is apparently a right-handed Aroldis Chapman, pitched the eighth for the Cardinals. His fastball averaged 101.1 mph and maxed out at 102.7. Brandon Belt was not impressed; he fouled off the hardest pitch the Giants have seen this season before smacking a 100 mph sinker into center to drive in the second run of the day. 

MLB free agency debate: Where will Patrick Corbin sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Patrick Corbin sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Friday's free agent to discuss is Patrick Corbin, a former Diamondbacks left-hander who had a career year at the perfect time and could be looking at the biggest deal for any pitcher this offseason.

ALEX: At some point, Patrick Corbin is going to sign a $100 million deal somewhere. When he does, he should send a nice catered meal -- or at least a couple dozen bags of Chick-fil-A -- to the Giants spring clubhouse. They did more than anyone to help him get to this point. Corbin faced the Giants six times last year, posting a 2.27 ERA and holding their hitters to a .176 average. Nearly 20 percent of his innings in his huge walk year were thrown against a bad Giants lineup, and he took full advantage. If you throw those Giants starts out, he had a 3.37 ERA. Good, but not elite.

But good for him. They were on the schedule and he dominated. Here's the question: Do you really think he's the top guy on the market, or would you prefer a Keuchel or Eovaldi? 

BEN: I have to admit I hadn’t thought of it that way before! Maybe the Giants should sign him just to make sure they don’t have to face him again. I still think Corbin is the top pitcher on the market. 246 strikeouts in 200 innings is impressive, to say the least. It seems like the Yankees are the favorite to land him. Where else might he end up?

ALEX: The Yankees are the favorite, for sure. It sounds like the Phillies are going to spend a ton of money this winter, and maybe they'll turn to pitching if they strike out on Harper and Machado. In your division, I think the Angels have to be in on all the pitchers, just to make sure they give Mike Trout a real shot at the postseason before his contract expires. And I wonder if the Astros will go big to make up for Keuchel and Morton being free agents and McCullers having Tommy John. The Braves could use an ace, too, which is why they're a popular Bumgarner destination. Corbin will have a robust market. Am I missing anyone? 

BEN: I think those are all realistic options. I think the Nationals will have some interest as well. Is there any chance he returns to Arizona? What about the Giants? Or are they done giving big money to free agent pitchers?

ALEX: They should be after giving out $220 million to two guys who are currently injured. Plus, the Friedman-Zaidi Dodgers tended to go for three-year deals for veteran pitchers, and Corbin is going to try to get twice that. I don't see him back in Arizona given all the talk there about trading Greinke and possibly Goldschmidt -- it sounds like they're taking a real step back. I'm going to go with everyone else and predict he ends up with the Yankees. Let's say, five years and $110 million. 

BEN: I'm picking the Yankees, too. He's used to pitching in a hitter's park, although Chase Field isn't quite Yankee Stadium. But he's a strikeout pitcher, so the ballpark shouldn't matter a ton. The Yankees need starting pitching and they have plenty of money to spend. I'll say he gets 5 years, $105 million.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Friday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin.




Giants shut out of awards, go home empty-handed for second-straight year


Giants shut out of awards, go home empty-handed for second-straight year

SAN FRANCISCO — For four-straight days this week, MLB Network ran hour-long specials to reveal the 2018 award winners. After each winner was announced, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released full ballots on its website. 

Nobody connected to the Giants had any reason to really pay attention to any of this. 

The Giants did not, of course, have a winner or anyone that even came particularly close. But for a second-straight year, they also did not have a single player -- or their manager -- receive a single vote for any of the four major awards. 

The MVP ballot has 10 slots and 19 different players received at least one vote, but you couldn’t make the case for a Giant to even finish 10th. There was no Cy Young candidate and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year race in the middle of the summer. The organization’s best shot at some consideration was in the Rookie of the Year balloting, but Dereck Rodriguez fell off a bit in September, and that was enough to keep him out of consideration for the third slot on ballots. Right-hander Walker Buehler of the Dodgers received 20 of the 30 third-place votes. 

This has happened two consecutive years, and as our Ahmed Fareed pointed out, the Giants joined the Padres and Pirates as the only NL teams to not have a single MVP vote the past two seasons. It goes deeper, though. 

Last year, the Giants at least had a Gold Glove winner in Brandon Crawford. Buster Posey won the Silver Slugger Award at catcher last season, too. But in 2018, the Giants were shut out of those announcements as well.

Crawford failed to win a Gold Glove for the first time since 2014. Posey was shut down in August, ending any shot at awards. Madison Bumgarner is normally a threat for the Silver Slugger (which he's won twice), but he batted just .159. 

The end result was that the Giants did not receive a single vote for any of the four major awards and also did not pick up a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger. There will be no pregame ceremonies of any kind next April, and that’s rare. 

You have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a Giants team that didn’t get any recognition at all during awards season. Hunter Pence finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting that year -- for the Astros, who were still in the National League. 

So, yeah, it’s been a long time since this has happened.