SAN FRANCISCO -- After six weeks bathing in a 95-degree dry heat, the Giants returned home to a 54-degree night in San Francisco. Jeff Samardzija loved it.
“The weather was a lot like football weather,” he said. “So it’s right up my alley.”
The former star Notre Dame receiver looked right at home in his first home start in orange and black, firing five shutout innings and allowing just one hit. Samardzija walked none and struck out five.
After giving up a leadoff triple to Giant-killer Billy Burns, Samardzija, a big offseason acquisition, retired 15 straight.
"Another really impressive start," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Good stuff, good tempo, really commanded all his pitches. The fastball had good run. He had a really nice slider with good depth to it. Another good start for him."
Samardzija didn’t separate this night from six weeks in the desert. He has insisted all along that he feels strong, even if results lagged at times.
“I felt really good all spring,” he said. “(In spring training) I’m just hoping my arm feels good. Camp is all about -- especially for a guy like me who likes to throw hard -- getting that velo up.”
Samardzija was 92-94 mph most of the night with plenty of sink. The A’s got some balls in the air with little to show for it, and Samardzija got a boost when Angel Pagan made a sliding catch on a sinking liner in the third. Samardzija held his glove up in appreciation and tipped his cap.
"He's worked hard in left field," Bochy said. "He wanted to make sure he had left field down before he started any games in spring training. He spent a lot of time with Roberto Kelly, working and shagging balls. He's taken it upon himself to be good and so far he's done a great job."
While Samardzija’s start was the highlight of the night, Pagan’s was just as positive a sign going forward. The career-long center fielder has wholly bought into the move to left field, and the early read is that he will be a pretty good defender out there. Samardzija said Pagan can be a “game-changer” in left for the Giants.
“For a guy to go ahead and switch positions in his free agent year is big,” Samardzija said. “For him to not complain tells you what type of guy he is and what type of team we have.”
--- Important update: "Bounce It" by Juicy J is back for a third year on Brandon Crawford's victory soundtrack. The rest of the mix is different than 2015's. Stay tuned.