Giants Continue to Tumble, Samardzija Goes Five Innings in Return to the Mound


SAN FRANCISCO - The other night, when asked about Johnny Cueto's return to the rotation, manager Bruce Bochy paused before noting, "It was okay." 

The same could be said of Jeff Samardzija's return on Saturday. 

Samaradzija was not particularly sharp, but his stuff was not really concerning, either, coming off a long layoff because of shoulder soreness. He gave up three runs in five innings on a quiet day at AT&T Park. It was okay. The Giants right now, are not. They lost 3-2 to the Cardinals, dropping to 1-5 in the week after a sweep of the Diamondbacks. This is a weird team, the very definition of .500. Here's what you need to know from Day 3 with the Cardinals ... 

- Samardzija gave up seven hits, but only one went for extra bases, which was a positive sign. That one was kind of a killer, though. Opposing pitcher Carlos Martinez bounced a double over Pablo Sandoval's head to bring the first run in. The Cardinals got four singles in the fourth while scoring two more.

- Samardzija hit 93 mph a couple times in the first inning, a step up from his previous stint in the rotation this year, when he had trouble getting loose early in games. But the velocity still wasn't quite where it has been in the past. Samardzija threw two fastballs above 94 mph but the rest were in the low 90s. He averaged 92.7 mph with his sinker, a tick up from 92.4 earlier in the season, but just 91.3 mph with his four-seamer. 

- Austin Jackson pinch-hit with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh. He struck out. Jackson is 3-for-18 as a pinch-hitter this season with nine strikeouts. 

- Jordan Hicks, a rookie who is apparently a right-handed Aroldis Chapman, pitched the eighth for the Cardinals. His fastball averaged 101.1 mph and maxed out at 102.7. Brandon Belt was not impressed; he fouled off the hardest pitch the Giants have seen this season before smacking a 100 mph sinker into center to drive in the second run of the day. 

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