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Samardzija stung by unearned Braves six-spot

@mi_guardado
May 23, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Shortly after securing a walk-off win over the Braves on Tuesday night, Giants players received a mandate from manager Bruce Bochy: They were not to report to Oracle Park before 4 p.m. PT on Wednesday. “Sometimes less is more,” Bochy said before the game. “You back them

SAN FRANCISCO -- Shortly after securing a walk-off win over the Braves on Tuesday night, Giants players received a mandate from manager Bruce Bochy: They were not to report to Oracle Park before 4 p.m. PT on Wednesday.

“Sometimes less is more,” Bochy said before the game. “You back them off a little bit. We’ve been stagnant at the start of the game. You try to change it up sometimes to see if that’ll help.”

But the modified schedule didn’t have the rejuvenating effect Bochy was looking for in a 9-2 loss to the Braves. The bulk of the damage came in a disastrous second inning in which Atlanta capitalized on defensive miscues and scored six unearned runs against right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

Box score

“Our defense has really been good, and tonight we just didn’t play well that second inning,” Bochy said. “We didn’t execute. He should have been out of that inning.”

Samardzija led off the inning by hitting Austin Riley, but he should have emerged unscathed after striking out Brian McCann and inducing a routine double-play ball from Ozzie Albies. Albies tapped a comebacker to Samardzija, who quickly turned and fired to second base to initiate a double play, but with the shift on, the Giants had no one covering the base and the ball sailed into center field.

“I just turned around and saw center field,” Samardzija said.

The Giants had third baseman Evan Longoria playing in the shortstop position and shortstop Brandon Crawford on the right side of second base against the left-handed-hitting Albies, but once Samardzija fielded the grounder, there was a miscommunication between the infielders, as both broke for the ball and then stopped.

“I was going to try to lead one of them kind of toward the bag, and obviously at that point, it was a little too late,” Samardzija said. “It was just a weird play. There’s a lot of great things about these shifts and things like that, but it does sometimes take guys out of double-play position. That’s kind of what happened. It was just a freak thing.”

Samardzija, who threw his arms up in frustration, was charged with a throwing error, allowing Riley to advance to second and Albies to reach on a fielder’s choice. The next batter, Matt Joyce, followed with a single to load the bases with one out. The Braves got on the board, 1-0, after left-hander Max Fried grounded into a forceout to score Riley from third.

Samardzija nearly secured the third out of the inning after striking out Ronald Acuna Jr., but his strike-three splitter got past catcher Buster Posey and rolled all the way to the backstop for a wild pitch, allowing Albies to score from third and Acuna to reach first and keep the inning alive. Samardzija couldn’t contain the damage after that, surrendering back-to-back home runs to Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman that put the Giants in a 6-0 hole.

“I think the pitches caught up with him at that point,” Bochy said.

The Giants had Derek Holland warming in the bullpen before Samardzija finally managed to complete the second by striking out Nick Markakis looking on his 38th pitch of the inning.

“It’s a shame because Shark threw really well,” Bochy said. “I know he gave up six there, but we just gave them too many outs there in that second inning. That was some of his best stuff, I thought.”

Remarkably, Samardzija regrouped and got through six innings on a season-high 107 pitches, holding the Braves scoreless on one hit and two walks outside of the second. The 34-year-old veteran departed after allowing four hits, walking two and striking out seven. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Samardzija became the first Giants pitcher to allow six or more unearned runs since Russ Ortiz on July 26, 1999, against the Cardinals.

“I was just happy with the way I battled,” Samardzija said. “Obviously, it’s not ideal. It’s really frustrating when you do have good stuff and the day doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, because it’s fun to go out there and have all the pitches and feel confidence out there against their hitters. But it’s the way it bounced today. It’s baseball, you’ve got to kind of just move on from it.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.