Jeff Samardzija has been on a roll ever since the calendar flipped from June to July, and the Giants right-hander kept that momentum going in his second start of August.
In the Giants' 3-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday, Samardzija matched a season high by completing eight innings. He also allowed just two hits and one earned run, didn't walk any batters and struck out five along the way at Oracle Park.
With Samardzija at 103 pitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy went to closer Will Smith to record the final three outs, preventing his starter from picking up his first complete game of the season.
"No, we had Smitty ready," Bochy told reporters when asked if he thought about letting Samardzija have the ninth inning. "It was a pretty good day's work. Eight innings, little warm out there.
"Could he [finish the game]? Yeah, I'm sure, but we had it set up right."
Samardzija now has a 1.95 ERA in eight starts between July and August, and after this latest outing, Bochy was asked if it was one of the best he's seen from Shark.
"It's right up there at the top," Bochy said. "He's in a really good place as far as commanding the ball, all four pitches, both sides of the plate, pitches up. That was just a great job of executing your pitches for eight innings. But I'd put that one toward the top."
Back in 2017, Samardzija had a 15-game stretch in which he walked just five batters and struck out 103 in 97 innings. But his ERA during that span was 4.64.
Bochy believes this is one of the best stretches of Samardzija's Giants tenure.
"I'd say, yeah," Bochy told reporters. "He had a good run a couple years ago where he was locked in and throwing the ball well. And you know what he went through last year. But I'd say with where he's at, he's evolved into a complete pitcher with the four-pitch mix that he uses and the command of them. He's got good savvy out there on what to throw. He and Buster [Posey] work well together. I'd say this run here is probably as good as the one he had before."
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After an injury-plagued 2018 in which he was limited to just 10 starts, does Samardzija feel like he's back to his 2017 form?
"Different guy, but same confidence," Samardzija said. "Which feels good, you know, that you're going to go out there and get outs, and make it nice and quick and get your offense in the dugout. For a while, it was such a grind just to go out there and get an out, it didn't feel good. You never forget that."