SAN FRANCISCO — The five-run rally in the eighth inning Tuesday was cathartic and joyful and, manager Bruce Bochy hopes, a sign of things to come. It wasn’t, however, needed.
The Giants on Tuesday did what they have done for most of 48 games. No matter what has gone right or what has gone wrong, they have been able to rely on their Big Three, and Jeff Samardzija kept that going against the lowly Padres.
Samardzija threw 6 2/3 strong innings, once again following up dominant performances by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The Giants won 8-2 in a game they led 3-1 when Samardzija threw his 105th and final pitch. When the downhill slide to a victory was over, Samardzija was 7-2 through 10 starts, putting himself in some fantastic company...
Madison Bumgarner: 6-2, 2.17 ERA, 66 1/3 innings.
Johnny Cueto: 7-1, 2.38 ERA, 75 2/3 innings
Jeff Samardzija: 7-2, 2.54 ERA, 71 innings
That’s the best top of the rotation in the National League at this point. It has been durable and dominant, and exactly what the Giants hoped when they added Samardzija and Cueto to Bumgarner.
“We thought a lot of them, obviously,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That was our thinking: We’re getting two really, really good pitchers that could give us quality innings. When you go out and sign free agents, you do expect good things from these guys and we’re getting it. As well as they’re throwing, it’s been impressive. You do your homework and watch these guys, and we knew we were getting two outstanding starters that could throw 200 innings and have good years for us.”
All three are currently on pace to blow past 200 innings and 200 strikeouts, and all three are on track to win 20 games. Samardzija said he’s feeding off the two in front of him, noting that you never want to be “the sour grape.”
“To come here every day and watch these guys pitch has been great,” he said.
It is an old formula for the Giants, one that kickstarted this dynasty in 2010. The blueprint includes steady defense, too, and while Samardzija came here in part for the Gold Glove-caliber infield, it was the corner outfielders who made the biggest plays Tuesday. Jarrett Parker threw a seed to second to nail Matt Kemp and end the first. Gregor Blanco and Joe Panik teamed up to cut Kemp down at third in the eighth inning of what was then a two-run game.
“It’s a lost art in a way,” Samardzija said of those throws. “Everyone wants hitters to bang and put defense on the backburner.”
Everyone wants an ace, too. Through 10 starts, the Giants have three of them.
--- Parker will get plenty of playing time with Angel Pagan on the DL and Hunter Pence nursing a sore hamstring, and he took advantage on his first night back. In addition to the throw, he hit a long two-run homer through the thick air. It’s pretty hard to get it out to dead center that time of night, but Parker cleared the wall easily.
“I got under it a little bit so I wasn’t really sure,” he said. “It kept carrying.”
The power has never been in question, but Parker has had issues making contact. The hope for the Giants is that he gets into a groove with more playing time.
“It’s a lot easier when you get into a good routine,” he said.
If Parker can find one this week, he could go on a nice little run. The Giants head to Coors Field this weekend.
--- The All-Star Game is in San Diego this year and the Padres are certainly doing their part to make sure Crawford gets there. He has a five-RBI game and four-RBI game against them in the past eight. Crawford’s triple was the big blow in an eighth inning that gave the Giants their first eight-run night since May 2.
“Hopefully that inning gets some of the bats going to where we start keeping the line moving a little bit better,” Bochy said.