San Francisco, CA – It was an evening of ups and downs. Jeff Samardzija was off to one of the best starts of his career. But by the seventh inning Curtis Granderson broke up his no-hit bid to leadoff the frame with a double followed by Yoenis Cespedes two-run homer. From there the Giants had no offense for Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets who evened the series with a 2-0 victory over San Francisco.
“I do think we’re playing better,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re swinging the bats better. Some of these games, we’ve scored runs, and the pitching wasn’t as sharp. But I like the way they’re coming out every day, their energy in the dugout. That’s what you need at this point.”
Samardzija was off to a great start. He retired 18 batters and walked only one. In fact, he pitched six hitless innings for the longest no-hit bid of his career. His previous longest no hit-bid was 5.2 innings on July 4, 2015 against the Orioles. Samardzija had great command, something that had been missing from previous starts. He was 0-3 with an 8.72 ERA in nine games (three starts) against the Mets.
“I threw the ball well, just really that one pitch to Cespedes, splitter came back and Cespedes took care of it,” said Samardzija. “We struck out on him on the at-bat before. He’s a heck of a hitter.”
His counterpart on the other hand shutout the Giants allowing no runs scored. Syndergaard scattered two hits over eight frames. He walked two and struck out six. Syndergaard is eight in the Majors with 171 strikeouts and first with a 5.70 strikeout to walk rate. San Francisco dominated the first two games of the series but struggled for hits tonight.
“The past month and a half, I felt like today was the first day I went out there and actually relaxed and had fun out there,” Syndergaard said. “I just kept things simple. The last month and half, I’ve been trying to think too far ahead in advance.”
The Giants had two opportunities in both the third and fourth innings. Syndergaard issued a free pass to Trevor Brown and a single to Eduardo Nunez. Brown got the walk in the third. While Samaradzija was at-bat he stole second and was out on the slide. Nunez reenacted the same play in the fourth. He got the the first hit of the game and attempted to steal second while Brandon Belt was at-bat and got caught stealing.
Syndergaard gave up his second hit to Joe Panik in the fifth. Brandon Crawford led off the inning by grounding out to first base. Syndergaard struck out Hunter Pence and Panik was the lonely man on base. Gregor Blanco struck out to end the threat. Two more batters got on base in the seventh and ninth but San Francisco was unable to drive them in for runs.
“We felt we had a chance to steal both of them,” said Bochy. “When you face a guy like this, one thing we thought we could do is run on him when they get on base. They stopped that.”
After a stellar start, Samardzija unraveled in the seventh. Grandson led off the frame with a double. Cespedes followed with a two-run shot and that was enough for the win. Since being activated from the 15-day disabled list, Cespedes hit three home runs this series, which is tied for his most in a series this season (other: May 5 to 8 at San Diego).
The loss tonight was costly for San Francisco. They fall a half-game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers who have now claimed first place in the National League West Division. The Giants are off tomorrow and can only hope a loss by the Dodgers would lead to a new showdown when they face their rivals for a three-game series in LA on Tuesday. This series is going to very important down the stretch for the pennant race.