SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Samardzija said he just played according to the game plan Friday night, allowing myriad Atlanta Braves batters to hit the ball to Brandon Crawford's area of the field.
That plan continues to work for the Giants, as the shortstop seamlessly made a defensive stop on every ball that came his way in San Francisco's 7-0 win at AT&T Park.
"It's unbelievable, he comes out of nowhere and makes a play," said Samardzija, before listing off his favorites. "Things like that as a pitcher, you just save pitches and it allows you to play deep into a game, so you know it's great when the ball goes in that direction."
Crawford only had to make a brief step before catching a liner to get Samardzija out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning. He continued to wow his pitcher throughout and highlighted the evening by charging a slow grounder from Dansby Swanson in the sixth, before barehanding it and throwing him out to end the inning.
It's nothing out of the ordinary for Crawford, who won his first Gold Glove Award last season. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said several times he thinks his shortstop is the best defensively in the game. And he repeated himself after Friday's series opener.
"We see it so often, the plays he makes," said Bochy. "He stopped some rallies with the plays he made. Crawford is just special; there's nobody better out there."
Crawford seemed to embody San Francisco's revitalized defense with his performance. The club has now gone a season-high 11 games without committing an error and has just two in its last 19 contests. Match that with consistent hitting and a pitching staff that hasn't allowed a run in back-to-back games, and there's an obvious sense that this team is playing better baseball.
Matt Moore's near no-hitter provided a boost Thursday, and according to Samardzija, Crawford's highlight reel in the field served as the Giants' spark a night later. The right-hander certainly helped, pitching seven innings while bringing his ERA to 1.75 over his last four starts. But his stat line might've not been possible without Crawford behind him.
"I like that game plan; I like getting ground balls," said Crawford. "I'm glad he feels confident in me to make those plays for him."