Programming note: Giants-Rockies coverage starts tonight at 5pm with Giants Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area Plus (CHANNEL LISTINGS)
DENVER — Carlos Gonzalez knew the pitcher was running, so he hustled to a ball in the sixth and fired a laser to second. Jeff Samardzija slid in safely as the ball skidded away.
Gonzalez should have known better, anyway. Samardzija isn’t your average pitcher. Your average pitcher wasn’t a wide receiver good enough to be considered a first or second-round pick out of Notre Dame. Samardzija has shown that athleticism in batting practice and it appeared on the field Tuesday, when he had competitive at-bats and ended up with the double.
“I’m just trying to keep up with this cat over here, this cowboy,” Samardzija said after the game, nodding at clubhouse neighbor Madison Bumgarner. “It’s good to have a rabbit to chase.”
Samardzija and Bumgarner have gone head to head in BP over the last couple of weeks, so much so that a member of the coaching staff wondered aloud last week whether Samardzija’s power shows were keeping him from working on an approach that could make him a threat at the plate. He was much more in control Tuesday, and that extended to the mound. Samardzija used a more exaggerated turn as he came to the plate. It’s a timing mechanism meant to slow his delivery down and keep his arm from rushing.
“My windup was great tonight,” Samardzija said. “I was in the zone.”
Still, Samardzija said, there’s work to do. “We’re still getting there,” he added.
Samardzija clearly is benefiting from working with Dave Righetti and this staff, and he said he hopes he’s helping others, too. Asked about going deep into the game, Samardzija said it’s important to bank innings in April. There could be a time in September when he can only handle five innings, and he wants a fresh bullpen.
Samardzija breezed through eight on Tuesday and could have pitched the ninth had the game not gotten out of hand. He gave up just six hits, and ended up with that double of his own. Afterward, he didn’t have a scorecard to show off from his first Giants win, or a baseball, or any souvenirs at all.
“I don’t keep anything, man,” he said. “I don’t have an office with stuff everywhere. I’m outside. I have a fishing pole in my hand usually.”
--- From last night, my game story on Trevor Brown, who leads MLB catchers in homers. Here's a bizarre fact: The only National League catchers with multiple homers are Giants, Brown and Buster Posey. They actually have more homers than all other NL catchers combined.
--- Jeremy Affeldt made his CSN in-studio debut last night, and before that he was the sixth guest on my podcast. You can find that here and if you're on iTunes you can subscribe or download it to your phone or tablet or whatever you use. All six of them are up if you search on your podcast app.
--- The Giants have a homer in all eight games this season. They've also come from behind in all six of their wins.
--- Hunter Pence hit a 439 foot homer last night, the longest of the year by a Giant. It's been a nice start for the corner outfielders; Angel Pagan had three hits last night and is 11 for 29.