In front of 23,000-plus on a Thursday afternoon, White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija put on a show by keeping the Blue Jays off the scoreboard with a 2-0 shutout victory. Samardzija threw 70 of his 108 pitches for strikes, racking up five strikeouts while allowing just four hits and a walk en route to his sixth win on the season.
Samardzija bookended the game with his best pitches. He started his day by striking out Devon Travis, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista in the first inning, using an overpowering fastball that reached 96 mph and his cutter/slider/split to keep Donaldson and Bautista off-balance.
That continued in the ninth inning, albeit after a shaky start (the dreaded lead-off walk to Travis). Sox fans began to breathe pretty hard, because they've seen Donaldson change games in the late innings with one quick swing. This time, one swing from Donaldson did radically change the outcome .... but this time in Chicago's favor, as he hit a bouncer to Carlos Sanchez, who flipped to Gordon Beckham to start the 4-6-3 double play. Samardzija finished the game by getting Bautista to swing over an 86 mph slider for the final out.
That slider, could be Samardzija's last pitch thrown in a White Sox uniform. While it was a healthy sized crowd for a weekday afternoon game, there were more than White Sox and Blue Jays fans were paying close attention.
15 scouts here in Chicago to see Jeff Samardzija pitch— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) July 9, 2015
In Samardzija's last six starts, his numbers look like this: 45 IP, 12 ER, 48 K , 10 BB, 1 HR.
Compare that to Johnny Cueto's: 42 1/3 IP, 10 ER, 47 K, 9 BB, 3 HR allowed.
One can say that Samardzija has been outpitching Cueto by the slightest in the past six starts. Regardless of that particular debate, Samardzija has boosted his stock by getting his numbers to line up with the scouting reports. Add in Oakland A's starter Scott Kazmir leaving his last start early, and the Shark becomes the most attractive American League pitcher on the block.
Samardzija's next start is up in the air, as he is not scheduled to pitch this weekend against the Chicago Cubs. The All-Star break follows, so the next possible game he could be on the mound is July 17th. Eight days is a long time during the July trading month and one can assume that Rick Hahn's phone has been buzzing after this start.
On a team-wide scale, the White Sox have now won seven of their last nine games and now find themselves only five games below .500 at 39-44. At this point, any dreams of a comeback a la the Kansas City Royals of 2014 looks like false hope since the White Sox offense continues to sputter along. Today, Adam Eaton got the scoring stirring with his seventh triple of the year in the sixth inning. He scored thanks to #PASSEDBALLOFFENSE during Melky Cabrera at-bat. Catcher Russell Martin failed to catch an R.A. Dickey knuckleball that drifted outside, and Eaton made it home without a slide for a 1-0 ead.
Chances are pretty good Eaton would have scored anyway, as a couple pitches later, Cabrera crushed a Dickey knuckler to rightfield for his fourth home run of the season. If you haven't been paying attention, The Melkman, has been heating up.
Since June 8 Melky Cabrera is hitting .347/.395/.541.— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) July 9, 2015
With Cabrera on fire, Eaton back on track and now Jose Abreu on a 11-game hitting streak, Chicago's top of the lineup is showing signs of life. It's not enough by itself to spark wild card hopes,but if Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia decide to hit for power, then things could get interesting.
Now for some Web Gem GIFS:
- Alexei Ramirez had an x-ray on his ankle and received treatment during the game. Good news, the x-rays came back negative, but it's still not known if he will play Friday against the Cubs.
- Scott Carroll was optioned down to Charlotte after the game. No word yet on who is going to be joining the team as Matt Albers is nearing the end of his rehab. White Sox will make the final announcement prior to tomorrow's game.