Two pitchers — one with fond memories of June 2015, the other not so much — meet for the first time Sunday afternoon when the San Francisco Giants host the Texas Rangers to wrap up a three-game series.
The game pits Giants 35-year-old right-hander Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 11.25 ERA), who last pitched against the Rangers on June 2, 2015, against Rangers 22-year-old lefty Kolby Allard (0-0, 0.00), who was still attending San Clemente High near Los Angeles on that day.
Pitching then for the Chicago White Sox, Samardzija became a footnote in history that night more than five years ago when he served up not only Joey Gallo’s first major league hit — a two-run single in the first inning — but also the slugger’s first career home run: a two-run shot two innings later.
The Rangers won the game 15-2. Gallo finished with three hits and four RBIs. The two haven’t squared off since.
No doubt, Samardzija remembers the night. He also got nailed for a booming double by the highly regarded prospect, and gushed about him afterward.
“He looked pretty good to me,” Samardzija assured reporters. “He definitely likes the ball in. I threw three in there, and he hit every single one of them. He looks like a heck of a player.”
Six days later, Allard was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Braves. He subsequently decommitted from UCLA to sign his first pro contract.
Considered to be a sports fanatic — he once went trick-or-treating as Johnny Manziel — Allard played on the same freshman baseball team as New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. They were in the same class at San Clemente, with Darnold going on from there to USC.
Allard has never faced the Giants and will be making his first start of the season.
After beginning the season as a bullpen option, he earned the starting assignment when the Rangers lost Corey Kluber for the season with a shoulder injury.
“Obviously that’s like the elephant in the room,” Allard responded when asked this week if he felt pressure replacing the staff ace. “But obviously there’s no way you can really replace Corey. Corey’s Corey.”
He went 4-2 with a 4.96 ERA in nine starts for the Rangers last season.
Allard’s five career wins are 75 fewer than Samardzija, who has recorded victories over 25 of the majors’ 30 teams.
The Rangers aren’t on that list, along with the Cubs, Mets, Yankees and Mariners. Samardzija has gone 0-2 against Texas with a 6.30 ERA in three starts.
The Giants will be going for a three-game sweep, having used a powerful offense to produce a 9-2 series-opening win on Friday night, before getting a combined seven-hitter from seven pitchers in a 7-3 victory on Saturday.
The Rangers lost the rematch despite getting a home run from Scott Heineman, whose brother, Tyler, had a double in the game for the Giants.
San Francisco’s Donovan Solano has been the big hitter in the series with three hits and four RBIs. He leads the Giants with 13 RBIs in nine games.
–Field Level Media