Samardzija, Giants aim to stay hot in Arizona

Field Level Media

August 16, 2019 at 7:34 am.

The San Francisco Giants’ rise to contenders in the National League wild-card race has coincided with the resurgence of veteran right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

The 34-year-old will try to continue his hot streak Friday night in Phoenix in the second game of a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Samardzija (9-9, 3.55 ERA) is 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in eight starts since the calendar flipped from June to July, when he started more prominently featuring his four-seam fastball and cutter, curbing use of his sinker and virtually eliminating the curveball.

His last outing was a one-run, two-hit effort over eight innings in a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

“He’s in a really good place as far as commanding the ball, all four pitches, both sides of the plate, pitches up,” manager Bruce Bochy said after that game.

The Giants were 11 games under .500 — second-worst in the NL — when Samardzija took the mound on July 1, but they moved into a tie with the Diamondbacks at 61-61 with a 7-0 victory on Thursday night.

“Different guy, but same confidence,” Samardzija said on NBCSports.com, talking about his bounce-back season after an injury-plagued 2018. “Which feels good, you know, that you’re going to go out there and get outs, and make it nice and quick and get your offense in the dugout.

“For a while, it was such a grind just to go out there and get an out, it didn’t feel good. You never forget that.”

He’ll face an Arizona lineup that was quiet Thursday night against starter Dereck Rodriguez and two relievers. The Diamondbacks had three singles and didn’t get a runner to second base.

“I really don’t know what to say about this game,” said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo. “Sometimes, things happen on a baseball field that leave you scratching your head. I thought we were playing good baseball — and we are playing good baseball, with the exception of today’s game. …

“I don’t want to take anything away from the game planning that the Giants did, but we just didn’t play up to our capabilities today.”

It certainly will help having All-Star Ketel Marte back in the lineup after he had Thursday off for a rare day of rest. Marte is hitting .320 with 24 home runs and a .947 OPS.

Arizona will be looking for the first win from trade-deadline acquisition Mike Leake (9-9, 4.58 ERA).

The right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA in two starts after coming over from the Seattle Mariners. He has given up 21 hits and three walks in 10 1/3 innings, and he is 5-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 11 career appearances (10 starts) against the Giants.

Samardzija is 4-5 with a 4.39 ERA in 19 appearances (14 starts) vs. Arizona, including two starts this season with a 1-1 record and a 6.35 ERA.

Giants outfielder Alex Dickerson has pinch-hitting appearances in the past two games after missing 12 games because of a right oblique strain. The left-handed hitter figures to start Friday against Leake.

Dickerson is hitting .378 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 32 games with San Francisco after being traded from the San Diego Padres on June 10.