Less than 24 hours after arriving in Oakland, Jeff Samardzija showed why the Athletics traded away their top young prospects to obtain the burly hard-throwing pitcher in a blockbuster trade Friday evening.
After a rocky first inning, the 6’6″ righty overpowered the Toronto lineup, routinely hitting 96 MPH with his fastball and mixing in devastating sliders and splitters to lead Oakland to a 4-2 victory and 4-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
The only blemish on the day for Samardzija came in the sixth inning when he allowed an RBI groundout, however the A’s had already built a 3-run lead at that point allowing him to pitch looser.
“It was beauuuuu-tiful, man. It was awesome,” said Samardzija on the early run support.
The Cubs scored 3 or more runs in just 6 of his 17 starts this year, resulting in a 2-7 record in the NL despite having a 2.83 ERA.
Samardzija was noticeably excited on the mound, letting out a roar and a fist pump after striking out the side in the seventh inning to a standing ovation and a mosh pit of high fives and hugs from his new teammates in the dugout. It was quite obvious that his disposition coincides well with the A’s persona.
“I think any time I’ve ever been broken down—my personality and everything—my problems were always that I was a little too cocky and a little bit too emotional and things like that. I look around the locker room and go, hey, these guys fit me perfectly!” said Samardzija.
“That’s the most important thing for me, how much each guy in the locker room cares about each other. Sometimes you get into situations where guys care more about themselves than about the other guys. When it’s the other way around you start seeing how good things can be.”
Jed Lowrie seems to be getting his bat going again. The struggling second baseman had a double, a base hit, and two runs scored on the day, raising his batting average to .224. It was his second two-hit game in a row.
Speedy Craig Gentry had an impressive afternoon as well, smacking 2 hits, a walk, a run, and an RBI in addition to tracking down a few hard hit fly balls in center field.
The four runs allowed by the Athletics in this series match the fewest in a four-game series in Oakland history (5th time), as pitching staff is cruising into the upcoming 4-game (home and home) Battle of the Bay series with the San Francisco Giants.
“We definitely look forward to it, the fans make it feel like a football atmosphere, you can’t help but feel that energy,” said Brandon Moss.
The slugger is expected back in the lineup as early as Monday night as the MRI on his injured right ankle showed no damage.
Jesse Chavez (6-5, 3.23) will look to keep the A’s in the winning column Monday night. He will be opposed on the mound by Ryan Vogelsong (5-5, 3.86) with first pitch at O.co scheduled for 7:05 PST.