Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija still doesn’t have a win after two starts this season, but his performance on Saturday in the 5-4 win by the Chicago White Sox was much better than on Opening Day.
Samardzija, against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field Saturday, pitched seven innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and no walks. He struck out six batters on 113 pitches (80 strikes).
Compare those aforementioned stats with the ones Samardzija had against the Kansas City Royals on April 6 where he went just six innings. In that Opening Day start, he allowed five earned runs on six hits and three walks, with one strikeout.
What was best about this no-decision start for Samardzija was the fact he walked none, gave up no home runs and had five more strikeouts than he did in the season opener.
Saturday basically was about one bad inning for Samardzija, that being the third inning.
Scott Merkin and Sarah Trotto of WhiteSox.com quoted Samardzija following the game:
"“Going into the game, I knew after yesterday I needed to go deep in the game, so I just needed to calm down and understand that the goal in the game was to give that bullpen a rest today,” said Samardzija of lasting seven innings. “We only had to use two guys, so hey, we’ll chalk that up as a plus, but it’s nice to know you can still get better.”"
With that said, his next start will most likely be on either April 17-18 against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, so it really won’t be an easy task next against the AL Central first-place Tigers.
But with the righty, if he wants to be considered a top-tier pitcher on either the White Sox pitching staff or elsewhere, he must pitch better against the top-tier teams. If he allows four or more earned runs against the Tigers or another top team (especially in one inning), it will be a long day for the White Sox.
Looking back at Saturday’s game, Samardzija pitched well in the first inning, but in the second, he gave up three extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple). He responded with a solid third inning (faced four batters) and did the same in the fourth.
The fifth was yet another solid inning by the right-handed Samardzija with three consecutive outs, and even in the sixth, he again retired the side after facing four batters for the third time in four innings.
His final inning saw him retire the Twins in order. For the season, Samardzija dropped his ERA to 6.23, as it was 7.50 entering the game.
So after facing one tough opponent (Royals) and one not-so-great opponent in the Twins, start No. 3 will be the tiebreaker of sorts for the Samardzija in his first three starts to see where he stands.
I believe we’ll see more of the same Samardzija we all watched on Saturday than the one we saw on Opening Day.
I can’t wait to see what he does against the Tigers, because if he wants to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, Samardzija must pitch well against the best teams. The Tigers fit that bill … now it is up to Samardzija to do the same and just skip the one bad inning against Miguel Cabrera and Co. next week.