The Chicago Cubs placed closer Kerry Wood on the DL earlier this week and in the process called up Jeff Samardzija for his first stint in the big leagues. On Friday, the former All American wide receiver for Notre Dame made his major league debut.
His stat line wasn’t overly impressive – 2 IP, 2 Hits, 1 ER (tying run), 2 K’s – but he was received very well by the Cubs faithfu and he more than held his own against a power hitting Marlins lineup. Samardzija has made a rapid rise through the minor league ranks this season. He was just called up to Triple A Iowa a little over a month ago, but posted a 4-1 record and 3.13 ERA.
Here’s what people are saying about Samardzija’s MLB debut.
Cub’s Pitcher Ryan Dempster via the Chicago Tribune:
“It won’t be the last time he [loses a lead]. Honestly, it’s going to happen,” Dempster said. “It’s happened to all of us who have been down there [in the bullpen]. I thought he threw the ball great. He looked really, really good and he’s going to help us tremendously.
“I know he feels badly. But that’s the tough part of a one-run game. One bounce here or there can mean the difference, and unfortunately it didn’t happen for us today.”
Cubs Manager Lou Pinella va WSBT
“The new kid did fine. He got the sign for the pitch-out, but he threw it to the screen. He’s got good stuff, he’s gonna help us,” commented Lou Piniella.
More from Pinella via the NW Times:
“He’s got a nice, fresh arm. We’re going to give him an opportunity to see what he can do. He’s stretched out. We can use him about any way we want. The best way is to get him in there in the middle part of the ballgame, and if he’s pitching well, let him go a little longer.”
Samardzija struck out Alfredo Amezaga, the first hitter he faced on a 97 mph 3-and-2 fastball before giving up the run. He also reached 99 mph on his first pitch to veteran Luis Gonzalez in the seventh.
“I don’t really pay too much attention to the gun,” Samardzija said. “I was happy with my fastball. A couple of them stayed up that first inning. The fastball was a little erratic the first inning and (better) the second inning.
He quickly curried Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s favor with a memorable performance for any rookie. Despite allowing the Marlins to tie the game 2-2 in the seventh inning on Hanley Ramirez’s single, a stolen base on an errant pitchout and Jorge Cantu’s RBI double, Samardzija showed the liveliest arm Piniella has seen in weeks from his undermanned, under-performing bullpen.