Samardzija Pleased with Start

DES MOINES – Jeff Samardzija gave up two hits, a walk and a run in the first inning for Class AAA Iowa on Sunday. But the right-hander shut Albuquerque down from then on, throwing six innings of four-hit ball in his second start since being promoted from Class AA Tennessee.

Samardzija (1-1) walked six batters, but was happy with his performance overall.

"The last walk I had in the sixth, it was a 2-2 (splitter), and I thought it was a pretty good pitch," he said. "I thought it could have easily gone the other way, where it easily could have been two or three walks if it would have been a little bit different.

"But I'm happy with how it went. I was out there pitching and making things happen."

Samardzija's first start at Principal Park drew a crowd of 10,072. He threw 101 pitches – 57 for strikes – over six innings.

All of Albuquerque's four hits against Samardzija came in the first three innings. In the first, Samardzija gave up a leadoff double, a walk and an RBI single to Isotopes first baseman Dallas McPherson.

"I thought in the sixth my stuff was just as good as it was early in the game," Samardzija said. "I actually feel better as the game goes along than I do right out of the gates. I loosen up a little bit and usually get going."

Samardzija warmed up and bore down, working out of jams in the second and sixth with help from his new teammates. The I-Cubs executed two double plays, and catcher Koyie Hill foiled two stolen-base attempts, including a double-steal attempt in the first inning that resulted in the game's first out.

The six walks were an unacceptable number, Samadzija said, but the way in which they occurred he could live with.

"If this was a month and a half ago, I'd be worried about my walks," he said. "I think (Sunday) there were about two or three times where I was just kind of pitching how I wanted to pitch a guy. If I walked him, I wasn't too worried about it, knowing that maybe they had a righty coming up or a guy that didn't run so well."

Samardzija walked two in his last start against Albuquerque five days earlier on June 24, but he allowed seven hits and three runs. Sunday's 7-5 win was the last of a 10-game stretch of games with the Isotopes, in which Iowa won six.

"We'll let them fly out of here and be happy to play someone else," Samardzija said.

McPherson came into the game with a Pacific Coast League-leading 28 home runs, and had homered off Samardzija in the June 24 game – one of seven straight games in which the slugger went yard.

He jumped on the first pitch he saw, a slider, for his only hit on Sunday. Samardzija said he decided to attack McPherson with his fastball after that, striking him out in the third and walking him in the sixth.

"That's the first slider I've shown him in the five or six times I've faced him," said Samardzija, who said he tried to work in his slider more in his second Triple-A start.

Several Chicago front office personnel were in attendance for the game, including Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita and Scouting Director Tim Wilken.

"I was solidly pleased by the way he pitched (Sunday)," Wilken said. "I know he had the six walks. I'm not making excuses for him (but) I would say … he was very close when he was missing. His velocity was 92 to 97. His last pitch of the sixth inning when he struck out (Chase) Lambin was 96 miles per hour. He's got very good movement, is repeating his delivery better, is not as visible to hitters as he was earlier, and that's why he had the inordinate amount of hits."

Samardzija made 15 starts for Tennessee prior to being promoted to Iowa on June 21. He was 3-5 with a 4.86 ERA and 71 hits allowed in 76 innings with the Smokies.

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