San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Samardzija Dominant Again, Panik Breaks Out

May 19, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

In this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss Samardzija dominating, Panik breaking out, and Duffy’s slide continuing.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Thursday, the Giants completed their sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 3-1 win, with Jeff Samardzija taking the win and James Shields taking the loss. The Giants have won eight in a row, and just completed their first perfect road trip of seven or more games since 1913, when Christy Mathewson was patrolling the mound.

The Giants are 25-18, and stand all by themselves at the top of the National League West. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are both 3.5 games behind. Here’s what went on Thursday night.

1 – Jeff Samardzija Doesn’t Throw a Complete Game

Jeff Samardzija only completed eight innings on Thursday night. What a disappointing day on the mound for him. He can’t even throw a complete game!

That, of course, is all sarcasm. Samardzija was dominant again against an overmatched and overpowered Padres’ lineup in eight innings yesterday, giving up just three hits and a run to earn his sixth win of the year. He struck out eight while walking none, his second consecutive start without allowing a walk. After allowing three hits to the first eight batters (including two doubles), he ended his night by retiring the last 19 Padres he faced.

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He’s thrown a lot of pitches in the early going of this season, leading the majors with 970 pitches in nine starts. He’s also third in the National League with 64.1 innings pitched (Johnny Cueto [66.2] and Madison Bumgarner [58.2] join him in the NL’s top five). So, manager Bruce Bochy pulling Samardzija after eight innings is just a little break after working a lot early.

The top of the Giants’ rotation continues to look more and more like a three-headed monster. Through nine turns in the rotation, Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija are a combined 17-5 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.097 WHIP in 189.2 innings. The top of the rotation has looked as dominant as any in recent Giants’ history.

2 – Brett Wallace Gets Shut Down

Brett Wallace entered Thursday’s game with simply baffling numbers. Against the Giants, Wallace had six hits in 10 at-bats with three doubles. Against everyone else, Wallace had 10 hits in 61 at-bats (.164 average) with six extra-base hits. He had three hits in the first two games of this series. Samardzija, as well as closer Santiago Casilla and second baseman Joe Panik, finally hung a zero in the hit column for the former top prospect.

In his eight innings, Samardzija got Wallace three times, forcing him to pop up to Brandon Belt in the first, fly out to Hunter Pence in the fourth, and ground out to Panik in the seventh. The ninth inning was closer Santiago Casilla‘s, and Wallace narrowly missed picking up a hit to extend the game and bring it to a one-run contest. Instead, Panik made a lunge to his right and snagged the line drive, ending the game.

3 – Joe Panik Breaks Out of His Slump, Matt Duffy‘s Continues

Giants’ number two and number three hitters, Panik and Duffy, both entered Thursday’s contest mired in bad slumps. Panik was hitless in his last 15 at-bats, while Duffy had been shut out in 16 at-bats.

Panik wasted little time breaking out of his slump. In the first inning, Panik hit a soft grounder up the middle, and despite Padres’ second baseman Alexi Amarista getting a glove on the ball, he could not make a throw to retire Panik. In the third, Panik waited beautifully on a big curveball from Shields, and smoked it down the right field line for a double. He added singles in the sixth and seventh for his fifth career four-hit game.

Duffy, on the other hand, fell deeper into his slump. He went hitless in four at-bats against San Diego, and even when he reached base, it was due to Matt Kemp‘s missed catch error in right field. Duffy did score on Hunter Pence‘s RBI single later in the inning.

Panik upped his average 19 points yesterday, from .234 to .253. Duffy’s average dropped six points, from .239 to .233. The Giants need both players at the top of their game with a very dangerous team coming to AT&T Park on Friday.

4 – Back to the Moon

If you joined me yesterday, you know I shared a picture from high above Petco Park that showed Padres’ pitcher Brandon Maurer standing on the mound, and it looked like he was standing on the moon. On Thursday, the CSN Bay Area broadcast showed a similar view, this time with Jeff Samardzija appearing to be a lunar dweller.

Thanks for indulging me in this small thing that amuses me so.

5 – One Final Note

If you’re a Warriors’ fan, the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea had a great piece on superstar point guard Stephen Curry, and whether his athletic ability would translate to the baseball field. It’s a pretty fascinating read, so check it out.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Starters Keep Rolling, Pence Keeps Hustling

That’s it for this edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants head home to open up a six-game homestand, starting off with three games against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs own baseball’s best record at 28-11, but have hit their first bump in the road this season, having lost five of their last eight games. Jake Peavy takes the mound on Friday to open the series, being countered by reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.