SAN DIEGO -- At age 32, having spent all or part of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, Jeff Samardzija continues to learn more about the craft of pitching.
Thus, with three years remaining on Samardzija's five-year, $90 million contract after this season, the Giants can legitimately hope that the right-hander's improvement in 2017 will continue. His progress crested Monday night as he fashioned a three-hit shutout in the Giants' 3-0 triumph over the Padres.
Samardzija said that he has worked extensively with pitching coach Dave Righetti on several mechanical elements that have helped him maintain balance on the pitching rubber. That, in turn, has accounted for his remarkable control. Samardzija has averaged a National League-best 1.3 walks per nine innings, so it wasn't a surprise when he walked none -- while avoiding so much as a three-ball count -- against the Padres.
"I feel like I can manipulate the ball to where I want it," Samardzija said.
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "It's encouraging to see at this stage in his career that he has worked on getting better and better with his command, strike-throwing and his breaking ball."
Indeed, Samardzija attributed his success against the Padres to superior movement on his deliveries. Samardzija collaborated with catcher Nick Hundley, who filled in for an injured Buster Posey (bone bruise in thumb).
"The curveball was great," Samardzija said. "We even got some outs with the splitter, which was really key."
Samardzija also credited shortstop Brandon Crawford. The two-time Gold Glove winner assisted on four putouts, mostly on plays deep in the hole.
"It seems like every time I have a good game, you can say the same thing about Craw," Samardzija said. "When I'm getting balls on the ground, it's important to have that dude out there."
Since it's important to the Giants to have Samardzija out there, they appreciate his upbeat attitude.
"It's so mental, this game," he said. "If you think you don't feel good, you're not going to feel good. If you can just trick yourself into saying you're fine, a lot of times you'll be fine."