Giants

Rewind: Samardzija clinches first 7-0 road trip in 103 years

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Rewind: Samardzija clinches first 7-0 road trip in 103 years

SAN DIEGO — Bruce Bochy had already come to a decision.

Jeff Samardzija, Major League Baseball's leader in pitches thrown, had done enough through eight dominant innings. Bochy didn’t much care that he was ending a run of complete games by handing the ball to his closer.

“I don’t get caught up in that,” Bochy said, smiling. “(Samardzija) did bring that up to me, though.”

After watching Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto go the distance on back-to-back nights, Samardzija wanted to do the same. He didn’t know that the Giants had gone 28 years since a trio of complete games. He just knew that he wanted to match his teammates. That’s life in the clubhouse.

“I was trying to get back out there for sure,” Samardzija said.

Bochy was locked into his decision.

“Boch is going to be in the Hall,” Samardzija said. “I didn’t fight him too hard.”

Santiago Casilla had an eventful ninth but closed out an eighth consecutive win, this one a 3-1 nail-biter over the Padres at Petco Park. Casilla threw the final pitch of a 7-0 road trip, but the starters did just about everything else, and not just on Thursday. 

“Our starting pitchers are a big reason for this win streak we’re on right now,” said shortstop Brandon Crawford, who hit a solo homer. “It seems like they’re holding them under three every game.”

The Padres scored three runs total in three games. The Diamondbacks scored seven while losing four to the Giants last week. It added up to the first Giants sweep of a trip seven games or longer in 103 years.

“I’m a little surprised by that, to be honest,” Bochy said. “There have been good Giants teams and as long as we’ve been in existence, I’m surprised.”

The final game of the trip was a relatively smooth one until the final moments, with Joe Panik picking up four hits and the Giants taking advantage of some Padres miscues while scoring once in three separate innings. Samardzija gave up a run in the second and then retired 19 straight, throwing a 96 mph fastball on his 105th and final pitch. The whole trip wasn’t that easy, though, and while it’s easy to forget it after the way this series went, the Giants were mired in drama last week. Casilla fought Bochy’s decision on the mound and then went off post-game, and the Giants didn’t quite know what they had in Jake Peavy and Matt Cain when they flew out of SFO last Wednesday. 

[RECAP: Instant Replay: Giants sweep Padres, win eighth straight]

A week later they’re the hottest team in baseball, and the timing couldn’t be better. The Cubs, the best team in baseball since Opening Day, come to AT&T Park for three, starting Friday when Peavy faces reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. 

“We know who we have coming in,” Crawford said. “We’re going to take the same approach against the Cubs as we have on this road trip. That’s taking it one game at a time like we have been doing, and playing good baseball.”

Samardzija, a former Cub, won’t pitch in the series, but he certainly vaulted the Giants into the matchup in style. He pitched through the eighth for the fourth time in nine starts, and he moved into third on the National League leaderboard in innings (Cueto is second and Bumgarner is fifth). Samardzija wanted one more, though. 

“We’ve worked these guys pretty good, and especially Jeff,” Bochy said. “I just wanted to give him a break. He’s leading off the (top of the ninth) and Casilla is fresh. I thought it was time to give him a break.”

Samardzija didn’t push Bochy too much. Any regrets only came later, long after Panik had snagged a hot liner for the 27th out. Samardzija said several position players gave him a good-natured hard time about not finishing what he started.

“I’m going to have to keep an eye on them and see if they pull any tricks that are not the most masculine thing in the world,” he said, laughing. “I'll let them know about it.”

That was all in good fun. Samardzija’s new teammates know he has carried an incredible load through a quarter of the season, and they know they’ll need to lean on him down the line. The first-year Giant is looking forward to it, and he’s hoping he looks back on this night not as the one when he missed out on a complete game, but as the one when he saved some bullets.

“We have our eyes on the big picture, and that’s why I don’t mind,” he said. “If I need those 12 or 15 pitches for somewhere down the road, we’ll know we have them in there.”

Barry Bonds closer comparison to Michael Jordan than Madison Bumgarner

Barry Bonds closer comparison to Michael Jordan than Madison Bumgarner

Michael Jordan and his exploits have dominated the internet for months since ESPN’s “The Last Dance” premiered. Comparisons and retrospectives have become a constant across social media. 

In that spirit, Bleacher Report tried to analyze who most closely resembles MJ’s legacy in MLB and identified two former Giants who possess Jordan-esque qualities: Madison Bumgarner and Barry Bonds.

For MadBum, his postseason dominance draws the closest parallels to Jordan. In over 100 innings of playoff pitching, Bumgarner has just a 2.11 ERA. That includes a dominant World Series in 2014 where MadBum closed out Game 7 with five scoreless relief innings, earning World Series MVP in the process. Bumgarner was critical to each of the Giants' three World Series titles over the past decade.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bonds, on the other hand, simply struck fear into the hearts of opponents in a way few athletes ever have. Teams were willing to walk players in with the bases loaded just to avoid giving up a grand slam to Bonds. His eye-popping seven NL MVP awards surpass Jordan’s five NBA MVPs, and the slugger owns all sorts of other league records. Bonds’ lack of a World Series makes this a tough comparison, but baseball is a completely different sport, and one player absolutely isn’t enough to win a championship. Bonds hit four home runs in the one World Series he ever appeared in, but the Los Angeles Angels managed to overtake the Giants in seven games.

[RELATED: Giants' Larry Baer believes 2020 MLB Draft requires 'better scouting']

While neither player is a perfect correlation to Jordan, Bonds clearly is the closer comparison here. MadBum is phenomenal, but he’s never been considered the greatest player or even the greatest pitcher in MLB. Bonds was at the top of the sport for several years and is the greatest slugger the league ever has seen. 

As B/R's Jacob Schafer closes his article with, baseball doesn't have a person who perfectly matches up with Jordan's skillset, personality and impact on the sport.

One thing is for sure: both Bumgarner and Bonds could hit a baseball a heck of a lot better than Jordan ever did.

Nationals honor Gerardo Parra with 'Baby Shark' in World Series ring

Nationals honor Gerardo Parra with 'Baby Shark' in World Series ring

The Washington Nationals unveiled their 2019 World Series ring Sunday, and it has the usual bells and whistles.

Each custom ring features 55 genuine red rubies, 32 sapphires, 170 round diamonds and 23.2 carats of genuine gemstones.

Oh, and one Baby Shark.

What?

That's right. In honor #ForeverGiant Gerardo Parra, who started last season with the Giants before finishing it with the Nationals, the team engraved the "Baby Shark" on the inside of the ring.

Why "Baby Shark?" Because it was Parra's walk-up song for a part of the 2019 season in Washington, and it became the Nationals' rally call.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

According to NBC Sports Washington, Parra was going through a slump and wanted to change his song. He initially didn't want "Baby Shark," but it kept coming up on his phone because his 2-year-old daughter was continually listening to it.

“So, every time I pick, want to move the song -- every time move it -- the “Baby Shark” coming,” Parra told  NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas. “I said, no, I don’t want “Baby Shark.” I do it like three times like that. Baby Shark coming, “Baby Shark” coming. I said, hey, do “Baby Shark,” my song for my kids, my babies.”

Parra signed a minor league contract with the Giants last February, but he played in just 30 games before being released. Little did Parra know that his next stop would result in him winning a World Series ring.

And Parra probably never could have imagined that the "Baby Shark" song he never wanted would be immortalized on the 2019 World Series ring.

[RELATED: Parra impersonated by Batting Stance Guy]

In case you want a glimpse of the Nats' ring, here it is:

That's a nice piece of hardware.

While you wait for the global coronavirus pandemic to end, go ahead and sing "Doo doo doo doo doo doo, Baby Shark" to yourself.