LOS ANGELES -- The lapse that typically mars a Jeff Samardzija start never occurred Wednesday night.He made payoff pitches instead of watching them disappear beyond the outfield fence or skirt the strike zone for a costly walk. He stopped rallies before they accelerated, allowing only one baserunner past first. And
LOS ANGELES -- The lapse that typically mars a Jeff Samardzija start never occurred Wednesday night.
He made payoff pitches instead of watching them disappear beyond the outfield fence or skirt the strike zone for a costly walk. He stopped rallies before they accelerated, allowing only one baserunner past first. And he maintained sheer dominance, walking none while striking out a season-high 11 to help the Giants outlast the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1, in 11 innings.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy reserved one of his pet phrases to describe Samardzija's competitive attitude -- "maniacal focus." He has used it in previous years to describe superlative efforts delivered by the likes of Timothy Lincecum, Player Page for Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Finally, Samardzija proved worthy of that label.
Informed of Bochy's praise, Samardzija said, "That's been the issue, right? It hasn't been the stuff. It hasn't been the head. It's just been that one pitch in a big situation that I've been putting in a spot where they can hit it. In the big leagues, you have to be perfect all the way through, and you have to have that intensity and that focus because you see what happens when you let up just for a pitch."
Though Samardzija entered the game with an 0-4 record and a 6.32 ERA, his wall-to-wall intensity produced scintillating results. He surrendered three hits in eight innings. He also combined zero walks and a double-digit strikeout total for the first time since Sept. 17, 2014, with Oakland against Texas.
The lone run Samardzija allowed didn't bear his fingerprints. Second baseman Joe Panik dropped Yasiel Puig's fly ball to right field for a three-base error that opened Los Angeles' sixth inning. Puig scored on pinch-hitter Chris Taylor's one-out single.
An interrogator suggested Panik's misplay could have prompted disaster.
"Yeah, but it didn't happen," Samardzija cheerfully said. "Joey's my boy. He's out there playing every day, works his butt off, cares second to nobody, man. He loves the game and he's a competitor. That guy can make a ton of mistakes and it makes no diference to me."
Panik, the National League's reigning Gold Glove winner at his position, was self-critical.
"You have to take care of the ball in that situation," he said. "That was a long run, but I've got to make that play. [Samardzija] minimized the damage."
And, as demonstrated by his total of 70 strikes in 101 pitches, Samardzija did that all night long.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.