Former Notre Dame All American wide receiver Jeff Samardzija was sharp in his 2012 season debut for the Chicago Cubs tossing 8 2/3 innings before giving way to Carlos Marmol for the final in the Cub’s first win of the season.
Samardzija, once the owner of many of the Notre Dame receiving records that Michael Floyd has since staked claim to, made the Cubs rotation out of spring training for the first time in his career and he rewarded the Cubs with the best start of his career. In fact, had it not been for a fielding error with two outs in the 9th inning, Samardzija would have notched his first career shutout.
With two outs and a three run lead in the top of the 9th, a Starlin Castro error preceded a two run home run surrendered by Samardzija to Adam LaRoche. Shortly after Cubs manager Dale Sveum visited the mound for the two time in the inning to get the ball from Samardzija and turn it over to closer Carlos Marmol.
Sveum’s first trip to the mound came immediately following the error by Castro and enacted a round of boos from the Cubs faithful who wanted to see the local product finish off the game to get his first career complete game.
While Samardzija’s first career complete game will have to wait for at least another start, his 2012 season still got off to an absolutely fantastic start. He finished with a stat line of 8 2/3 innings, 1 earned run, and 8 strikeouts all while not surrendering a single walk.
Before Sunday’s start, Samardzija had started five games over the course of his career, but never made it past the 6th inning.
Samardzija is coming off the most successful season of his career this season after appearing in 75 games out of the bullpen and recording a 2.97 ERA through 88 innings pitched. His 2011 breakout came on the heels of back to back rough seasons in 2009 and 2010 where the former wide receiver recorded ERA’s of 7.53 and 8.23.
Next up for Samardzija will be a Friday matinee start against the defending World Series champion Cardinals on the road in St. Louis. He’ll be squaring off against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright who is coming back from missing the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
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