PHOENIX – The Giants finished the road portion of their season just as they began it: with a blown save and a trudge back to the dugout at Chase Field.
Sam Dyson couldn’t hold a two-run lead in a ninth inning that included another home run from J.D. Martinez, a pair of singles, an intentional walk and then an unintentional one to David Peralta that forced home the winning run in a 4-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Giants were poised to win their first road series in almost three months and capture the victory that would keep them from joining the Century Club. Instead, they finished the road season with an abysmal 3-20-3 road series record away from AT&T Park, and they must win at least one game in their final weekend series against the San Diego Padres to keep from joining the 1985 club as the only teams in franchise history to lose 100 games.
No Giants starting pitcher will reach double-digit victories this season. Jeff Samardzija was denied his 10th win despite six strong innings to finish a season in which he broke a franchise record previously held by Juan Marichal.
Samardzija had the offensive support to win. Denard Span finished a home run away from the cycle and Pablo Sandoval doubled twice to continue a surge that practically guarantees he will have a space in next year’s spring clubhouse.
But the Giants could not get the final three outs they needed to take the riad series. They finished 26-55 on the road.
Now they come home for a final weekend series with the Padres that begins on Friday and will include a love fest on Saturday when Matt Cain makes his final major league start.
Samardzija (9-15) yielded his 30th home run of the season to set a career high, but that was the only blemish against him while becoming the first and only Giants pitcher who will reach double-digit victories. He held the Diamondbacks to just two other hits while striking out four and issuing one walk.
His 4.42 ERA hid an otherwise impressive season in which his 6.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked as the highest by a Giants pitcher in franchise history, breaking the mark of 6.17 that Juan Marichal set in 1966.
Samardzija finished with 207 2/3 innings and 205 strikeouts, and nobody in the National League has thrown more total pitches. As if to prove a point, the 3,273rd and final pitch of Samardzija’s season was a firm, 95.3 mph fastball that Paul Goldschmidt couldn’t get around while flying out.
But the Giants bullpen bookended this season with a repeat of what happened here April 2, when Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in history to hit two home runs on opening day before Derek Law and Mark Melancon each blew late leads in a loss.
Cory Gearrin and Hunter Strickland each tossed a scoreless inning but Dyson gave up a home run to Martinez (his 45th of the season, and 29th in 59 games with Arizona) and could not scramble his way to his 15th save.
The Diamondbacks had runners at the corners with no outs after Dyson gave up two singles following Martinez’s home run. But second baseman Joe Panik handled a sharp grounder and threw accurately to the plate as catcher Nick Hundley applied a tag that survived a replay challenge.
The Diamondbacks pulled off a double steal and Dyson intentionally walked Jeremy Hazelbaker to load the bases and set up the double play. Then John Ryan Murphy hit a chopper that shortstop Brandon Crawford ranged to field before throwing a desperation heave to the plate that had little chance.
The tying run scored, and Dyson walked Peralta to end it.
Despite the most recent outcome, picking Dyson off the discard pile is looking like one of the Giants’ brightest moves in a dull season. Perhaps the same is beginning to ring true for Sandoval, who is hitting just .215 in 44 games since rejoining the Giants but he has found his form lately.
Over his last eight games, Sandoval is batting .407 and he has two home runs plus four doubles among his 11 hits. He also did the splits at first base while stretching to complete an impressive play that third baseman Ryder Jones started with a barehanded pickup.
Even if the Giants do not forecast Sandoval as an everyday player next season, his versatility at both corners could make him a valuable piece on the roster – and a cheap one, considering the Boston Red Sox are responsible for paying all but the minimum major league salary through 2019.
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