The 24-year-old left-hander brings a knee-buckling curve to his major league debut at AT&T Park on Saturday night, when he’ll try to help the Giants win consecutive games for just the second time this month.
Sanchez wasn’t pitching well before he officially went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle Tuesday, but San Francisco (70-62) didn’t like what it saw in its first trip through the rotation without him. Reliever Dan Runzler(notes) lasted just 1 2-3 innings in the first spot start of his career, a Sunday loss at Houston (43-89).
Rather than send Runzler out again, the Giants on Friday announced they’ll call up Surkamp, who’s had his way with hitters in Double-A Richmond. He’s 10-4 with a 2.02 ERA in 23 appearances - 22 starts - and he’s struck out 165 in 142 1-3 innings.
Surkamp isn’t blowing away hitters with his fastball, which hovers in the upper 80s consistently. Instead, he’s putting batters away with a devastating curveball that’s wowed San Francisco rookie first baseman Brandon Belt(notes), who played with Surkamp last season at Class A Fresno.
“That’s what he gets a lot of strikeouts with. That thing is nasty,” Belt told the Giants’ official website. “It doesn’t matter what level he’s playing on. He’s going to get a lot of people out with that curveball.”
Every pitch figures to be critical with an often anemic offense supporting Surkamp, though the Giants pieced together just enough to win Friday. San Francisco had only four hits against a Houston staff that came in with an NL-worst 4.63 ERA, but Jeff Keppinger’s(notes) two-run fifth-inning double was all it needed in a 2-1 victory.
“We’ve had our struggles all year with (scoring),” said manager Bruce Bochy, who sat the slumping Aubrey Huff(notes) and rested an ailing Pablo Sandoval(notes). “It’s been ongoing. It’d be nice to come out of it this last month, which they’re capable of doing.”
Combined with Arizona’s win over San Diego, the Giants - whose only back-to-back wins this month came Aug. 13 and 14 - remained three games out of first in the NL West.
San Francisco has averaged 2.5 runs and is hitting .161 with runners in scoring position this month at home, but Saturday’s opposing starter could provide a good chance to score some runs.
Houston’s Brett Myers(notes) (3-13, 4.95 ERA) hasn’t won since mid-June, going 0-7 with a 5.21 ERA over his last 12 starts. He’s coming off one of his worst outings in that stretch after yielding seven runs and nine hits over five innings Monday in a 9-5 loss at Colorado.
“The ball was flat (Monday). It didn’t have any angle, it was straight,” Myers said. “The ball was flat and they were just putting good swings on it. The ball didn’t have any life on it.”
Myers is 2-4 with a 5.55 ERA in 10 career games versus San Francisco, though he was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts last season.
The Astros have dropped five of six, including four of five on their current road trip - the lone win in that span a 3-1 victory in Thursday’s opener of this four-game series.