SAN FRANCISCO – During the 2017 season Jeff Samardzija pitched 207.2 innings for the San Francisco Giants, leading the National League in that category. It was the fifth season in a row the big righty had pitched at least 200 innings.
2018 was much different. Samardzija battled with stiffness in his right shoulder and spent most of the year on the injured list. He appeared in only 10 games.
Looking at how the Giants have used the 12-year veteran so far in 2019 it seems like Bruce Bochy and company are taking a cautious approach.
Only one time during his six appearances so far this summer has Samardzija made it past the sixth inning – a 90 pitch, seven-inning outing in Colorado. In the opening game of his season Bochy pulled Samardzija after allowing zero runs in five innings. He did the same Monday night against the Dodgers.
“It’s always tough,” Samardzija said of his early hook. “Because you feel good and you want to go out there and just do it for the team.”
The Giants weren’t exactly knocking on the door when Bochy decided to pinch hit for Samardzija in the fifth. He would have been the second batter in the inning after Gerardo Parra’s ground out, but the Giants skipper had Tyler Austin hit for his pitcher.
Austin did single to right-center and moved to second on a Joe Panik walk, but the two were left stranded when Solarte and Belt failed to reach base.
“We probably had one more inning with Shark,” Bochy said. “We needed to score runs. The pitcher was coming up in the two-hole there. And we got a big hit. We had a nice rally going. At that point we’re trying to score. Their top of the order was coming up. We had (Watson) set to go, rested.”
Tony Watson relieved Samardzija in the sixth inning and gave up four hits and two runs. But Evan Longoria saved the day for the Giants an inning later when he smashed a bases-loaded double down the third base line to put the Giants up 3-2.
“I pride myself in pitching a lot and taking care of the bullpen,” Samardzija said after the game Monday. “But there’s different situations and different ways the chips fall. In that situation my spot was due up and we needed a run. We won the game and that’s the bottom line. Whatever it takes.”