© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Tuesday night the San Francisco Giants came from behind to walk off the Atlanta Braves. The Giants offense has struggled thus far against Braves pitching through the first two games of this four-game series, and Wednesday night their bats remained fast asleep. Unfortunately for San Francisco, Wednesday night was a rare mix of aGiants offense combined with a rough outing from the pitching staff.
The Giants have struggled in the first innings of baseball games this season, and that’s probably an understatement. Wednesday night, they held the Braves scoreless in the first, only to give up six runs in the second.
Austin Riley was hit to leadoff the top of the inning. A throwing error by Samardzija allowed Ozzie Albies to reach first as Riley advanced to second. Matt Joyce followed with a base hit to load the bases, then two batters later, Braves pitcher Max Fried came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. An RBI groundout gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.
Samardzija should have been out of the inning striking out Ronald Acuña Jr. but he reached, and the Braves scored another run on a drop third-strike, scoring Albies and putting Acuña Jr, at first. Dansby Swanson followed and made it hurt. Launching a three-run homer to left, the Braves all of the sudden had a 5-0 lead. Not out of the woods yet, Samardzija would allow a solo homer to Freddie Freeman, who extended the Braves lead to 6-0 through two innings. Luckily for the back of Samardzija’s baseball card, none of the six runs allowed were earned.
Trailing by six runs early on, the Giants had a lot of work to do. They got on the board in the fourth inning as they attempted yet another miraculous comeback. Tyler Austin led off the Giants bottom of the fourth with a walk. Advancing to second on a ground out, Austin would come around to score on a Buster Posey line drive off the right-field wall, with Posey being thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Through four, the Giants trailed 6-1.
After the disastrous second inning, Samardzija settled down and completed six innings. His final line Wednesday night: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 7K’s while throwing 107 pitches.
The ball was flying out of Oracle Park Wednesday night. In the bottom of the sixth, Austin launched a solo homer (3) to right, trimming the Braves lead to 6-2.
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 23, 2019
Baseball is an unpredictable game. You should never count a team out until that last out is recorded. But after the top of the seventh, the Giants chances of a comeback torpedoed. Derek Holland came in to replace Samardzija. Surrendering a leadoff walk to Acuña Jr. and a single to Swanson, the Braves opened up the inning with two runners on and nobody out. Three batters later, with two on and two outs, Riley broke the game wide open with a three-run homer to left. The Braves led 9-2 through seven.
Holland stayed in and pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Offensively the Giants were unable to score after Austin’s homer in the sixth.
The eighth inning went quietly on both ends, but the Giants made a little bit of noise in the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, it’s worth pointing out that Acuña Jr. once again robbed Brandon Belt of an extra-base hit.
Ronald Acuña Jr. likes this center field thing. pic.twitter.com/DjpeAalrPy
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) May 23, 2019
Both Stephen Vogt and Kevin Pillar reached base with two outs in the ninth, while Brandon Crawford struck out to end the game. The Giants have lost two of three to the Braves and look to finish Thursday with a series split.
The winning pitcher was Max Fried, who improves to 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA. Samardzija falls to 2-3 with a 2.37 ERA. Thursday the Giants send Madison Bumgarner to the mound. He faces Braves righty, Kevin Gausman.