Everything went well for the Giants.
Away from the actual game, at least.
Four prospects were called up, livening up a happy clubhouse. The Giants unveiled a “Thank You Boch!” placard on the left-field wall, Bochy tipping his cap to a standing ovation as he enters his final month as manager. Pablo Sandoval got his final at-bat of the season, possibly his last with the Giants and possibly as a major leaguer, and his right elbow stayed attached to his body, which is really the best that could be hoped for. He bounced out in the seventh inning and left to a loud ovation from a crowd that adores him.
When he exited — next step Los Angeles for Tommy John surgery — so, too, did a small segment of fans. The Giants are entering the portion of the season inspired by “Whose Line is it Anyway” – points (or runs) don’t matter. And there weren’t enough Sunday in an 8-4 loss to the Padres in front of 38,701, who were there to say goodbye to the Panda.
There is always hope when Jeff Samardzija starts a game, but this was different from the very beginning. He allowed a leadoff home run to Greg Garcia, one of four hits in the two-run inning. He had given up more than four hits in just one of his previous seven starts.
He settled down mostly after the first, despite San Diego barreling him up all afternoon, many of the outs of the lucky variety. Samardzija survived until the sixth, an inning he probably should not have been pitching.
At 92 pitches and about to face the lineup for a third time in a game the Giants were losing 3-2, Samardzija was left in to bat for himself in the fifth, a decision Bochy paid for.
Eric Hosmer, who finished a home run shy of the cycle, opened with a triple. Two batters later, Wil Myers hit a slow grounder down the third-base line that a charging Evan Longoria chose to hop over, assuming it would go foul. It didn’t, and Myers ended up with one of the stranger doubles there are. Samardzija walked Austin Allen, ending his night at 109 pitches.
Even that decision backfired for Bochy, as Fernando Abad promptly allowed a home run to Ty France – his second of the day – to make it 7-2 Padres and essentially end the game.
It was Samardzija’s first hiccup in a few months, the right-hander being one of the best pitchers in baseball since July, a span in which he had a 1.99 ERA in 11 games. He is allowed off days, especially after the Giants’ flirtation with postseason contention is over.
The biggest on-the-field bright spot came in the first, when Kevin Pillar became the first Giant with a 20-homer season since Brandon Crawford in 2015. Longoria is nearing becoming the second, making up for his defensive miscue in the sixth with a two-run shot, his 18th. Those were the only runs the Giants would score, rarely threatening and the San Diego bullpen shutting them down.
On Sept. 1, as the Giants (66-70) greeted Chris Shaw, Aramis Garcia (who played first and went 0-for-2), Conner Menez (one-third of an inning with a hit and a walk) and Burch Smith, they remained seven games back of the Cubs with 26 games to play, ending a homestand and now hitting the road. It’s over, even if the Giants are uncovering moments worth watching.