Giants

Jeff Samardzija does something a Giants starter had not done this year

Jeff Samardzija does something a Giants starter had not done this year

SAN DIEGO -- When Evan Longoria fielded a Wil Myers grounder and whipped it across the diamond in the eighth inning, Jeff Samardzija did something no other Giants starter has done this year. He recorded an out in the eighth. 

Samardzija would get two more, finishing eight innings for the first time since Sept. 15, 2017. The Giants have had eight other games -- four by Madison Bumgarner -- in which their starter went seven innings, but this was their longest outing of the season, and the timing was perfect. With the team playing 20 games in 20 days, and reliever Dereck Rodriguez being sent down earlier Monday, manager Bruce Bochy wanted to give his bullpen a breather. 

"We had some guys down there that could use a break," Bochy said. "He did that and more."

Samardzija has been vocal about the way the game has changed and his disagreement with limiting starters. He said there was very little discussion about his workload Monday. He felt good and Bochy was happy to let him soak up the eighth, even as Samardzija got to 114 pitches. 

"You've got to get that threshold up to where that feels good to go seven-eight-nine innings," Samardzija said.

--- Samardzija was charged with two earned runs, but one of them was tough to take. Fernando Tatis Jr. scored from third on a pop-up that didn't get deep into right field. There was little doubt that the rookie, who has done that before, would tag. There wasn't even a play at the plate as he raced home and Joe Panik's throw went up the line. 

"He's a heck of a player, man," Samardzija said. 

Samardzija threw his hands up in frustration as Tatis Jr. scored and angrily snapped at a new baseball. He likely was frustrated in the moment because the Giants screwed that one up defensively. Panik waved his arms emphatically to call right fielder Austin Slater off, but he threw as he backpedaled into right field. Slater should have called him off, and Tatis Jr. certainly would not have tested a right fielder rushing in towards the infield. 

"We talked about it in a meeting before the game," Slater said. "I could have gotten that ball. We see these guys a lot. I don't think it'll happen again."

Maybe not, but you can bet Tatis Jr. will keep looking for cracks. He's absolutely electric, even in a losing effort. 

[RELATED: Smith selected to represent Giants at All-Star Game]

--- Slater was the main story last night. He changed his swing, and Night 1 was a good one. 

--- Kevin Pillar has 12 homers and has homered in consecutive games for the third time this season. He has a real shot at becoming the first Giant since Brandon Crawford in 2015 to hit 20. 

What's behind Giants' four catcher's interference calls in 18 games?

What's behind Giants' four catcher's interference calls in 18 games?

The Giants knew they would miss Buster Posey's approach at the plate, his arm behind it, his framing and his leadership on and off the field. 

When Posey opted out of the 2020 season after a week of Summer Camp, he left huge spikes to fill, and the front office and new coaching staff knew it couldn't be done. 

But they never really could have anticipated having such issues with one aspect of the position that normally isn't a huge problem at the big league level. When Chadwick Tromp clipped Josh Reddick's bat with his outstretched glove in the third inning of a 6-4 loss, it was the fourth catcher's interference call on the Giants in 18 games. 

To put that into perspective, Posey has three ... in his entire career.

Posey has been called for catcher's interference just one time over the past six seasons, including none last year, when the Giants had just one. The first three this year were called on Tyler Heineman, but the one on Tromp was especially costly. It wiped the second out -- Reddick grounded out softly -- off the board for Logan Webb with the Giants trailing just 1-0. The Astros would end up scoring four runs in the inning.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

After Heineman's second one over the course of the first week, Kapler said the staff had asked the rookie to get closer to the plate for guys with big 12-6 breaking balls. But Kevin Gausman -- who had the third one called during his start in Denver -- doesn't fit that description, and neither does Webb. The issue on Monday was something else, Kapler said. 

"It's a little different with the runner in motion there. One of the adjustments (Tromp) has made has been to get his momentum going through the baseball and I think, witnessing the whole field, he probably got a little bit anxious and went out to get that ball a little bit too soon," Kapler said. "Reddcik has a tendency to lay the bat into the zone pretty early and extend so those two things lined up and he just clipped the glove."

Tromp explained it similarly. 

"My momentum took me to the ball and I think that combined with Reddick, I think he has like a long swing, and I think those two played a factor," he said. "Bad timing. I felt horrible, but that's just kind of what happened. My momentum took me into the throw, and it's just unfortunate."

If this feels like a bizarre mistake for a team to keep making, it's because it is. The Diamondbacks and Cubs led the majors last year with six catcher's interference calls in 162 games. The Giants have four in 18 games, while the other 29 teams entered play Monday with five combined. 

Asked a second question about the trend, Kapler shifted the focus. 

"I just really want to keep this as a team thing. We win as a team, we lose as a team, we stick together as a team. We make a comeback tonight against a rough reliever as a team," he said. "As a team, I think the fewer mistakes we make, the quicker we can clean up those mistakes, the more likely it is those comebacks turn into wins and not just valiant efforts."

[RELATED: Krukow believes Astros getting "free pass" this season]

As a team, the Giants have 21 errors, four more than any other team in the big leagues. They had three on Monday and should have had a fourth. Donovan Solano's whiff of the leadoff grounder in that third inning was ruled a single and got the whole thing started. 

It's surprising that the Giants , who had two encouraging camps, have kicked the ball around so often. It's also costing them wins in a season where every game is the equivalent of 2.7. The lineup scored three runs in the ninth, but too much damage had been done with the early sloppiness. 

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 6-4 loss to Astros

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 6-4 loss to Astros

BOX SCORE

The Giants have gone all-in on advanced stats, and for good reason. But sometimes you can describe a performance in the most old-school way possible and say everything you need to do. 

Through eight innings Monday night in Houston, the Giants had three errors and just two hits. There's all you need to know. 

A rally in the ninth put the tying run on first, but the hole was too deep and the Giants lost 6-4 to the Astros. This was yet another ugly performance for a team that leads the majors with 21 errors, and the lineup flirted with a no-hitter for a couple hours.

Here are three things to know from the night the Giants fell to 2-6 on the road trip ... 

Deserved Far Better

The frustration showed on Logan Webb's face throughout the third inning, and you can't blame him. Webb needed 36 pitches to get out of the frame and gave up four runs, through little fault of his own. The young right-hander got six outs, but one grounder was booted, another was wiped away by a catcher's interference (the fourth of the year by the Giants, incredibly) and a third was thrown away. 

Only two of the five runs Webb gave up were earned, meaning he has allowed just five earned in four starts this year. He's off to a good start. It would be much better if he had a functional defense behind him.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

No Backup Plan

Donovan Solano made a couple of errors at third base, and he also whiffed on Jose Altuve's grounder that was ruled a single but had a hit probability of just four percent. Solano was starting because manager Gabe Kapler wanted to give Evan Longoria a day off, but as good as he has been at the plate this year, he is miscast at the hot corner. 

The problem for the Giants is that Wilmer Flores doesn't look like he can really play there, either, and Pablo Sandoval doesn't seem like an option. Longoria is close to an everyday player, but the Giants don't really have a good alternative when they want to give him a breather. It might be worth a shot to move Mauricio Dubon over there and let Solano and Flores stay at second base.

[RELATED: Krukow believes Astros getting "free pass" this season]

Slater Tater 

Austin Slater hit a solo shot in the eighth to get the Giants on the board. It was his third homer in three days and came on a 96 mph fastball from right-handed reliever Josh James. 

The Giants didn't have a hit against McCullers until Solano pulled a double past Alex Bregman's glove with one out in the seventh. The hit gave Solano a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by a Giant since Angel Pagan went 19 games in 2016. He later added a second double.