Samardzija finds his form in four-hit gem

Giants starter allows solo homer one out shy of notching shutout

June 18th, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays weren't even off the field before Jeff Samardzija had taken his spot back on the mound. As soon as the Giants finished batting in the ninth inning Friday, the tall right-hander ran out of the dugout, ready to finish what he started -- even if no one else was out there to join him.

After going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in his last three starts, Samardzjia was eager to end a game that had already ended the bad feelings of that rough streak. And he did exactly that in his complete-game performance, a 5-1 Giants win over the Rays.

"Starts like the last couple I've had leave a sour taste in your mouth," Samardzjia said. "And I'm a competitor and I don't like that. I just wanted to go out and pitch deep into a game."

It was his eighth complete game, and he was one strike away from it being his fourth career shutout. A Brad Miller home run in the ninth ended the bid for a scoreless game, but not a Giants win. The Rays couldn't figure him out all night, posting just four hits -- three of them singles.

He said he'd let the game speed up a bit in recent starts and did a better job of slowing it down Friday, even if he was sitting the Rays down in short order.

"He was more like himself," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He attacked the strike zone. He threw a lot of pitches. I thought he mixed it up better. ... Just a really nice job by him.

Bochy said Samardzija threw fewer fastballs and did a good job setting hitters up early in the count. Rays manager Kevin Cash was impressed with his cutter.

Samardzija thought two of the pitches he threw to Miller in the ninth-inning at-bat may have been strikes. He had thrown a sinker he called "real close."

"When that's your bad thing of the day," Samardzjia said, "you'll be all right."

The Rays got two singles to start the second inning, but didn't score there. And after that, Samardzija faced the minimum until the Miller home run.

Longoria was the next batter. The bullpen was warming up quickly. The Giants were without closer Santiago Casilla, on paternity leave. The near flawless night for Samardzija might have been hitting its last stride, and everything could have quickly gotten out of hand.

"He deserved a shot at the shutout there," Bochy said, "and once he allowed the home run, he was on his last hitter."

But Longoria bounced out to shortstop. A night featuring the backdrop of the Rays' largest regular-season crowd in more than 10 years was officially all about the man on the mound.