Jeff Samardzija entered Saturday’s start against the Pirates with full knowledge that it would be his last. Over the next couple of hours, he pitched like a man wanting to make a grand final statement.
The former Notre Dame wideout struck out nine batters in a complete-game victory at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, allowing just four hits and two earned runs while fanning nine. He threw 120 pitches — 81 of which were strikes — as the Cubs rolled 4-3.
Samardzija was merely a setup man last season and seemed destined to remain one for the rest of his career, but the rebuilding Northsiders decided to give him a crack in the rotation this spring and may have found themselves a top-end starter to build around.
The 27-year-old will finish up with a 3.81 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 180/56 K/BB ratio in 174 2/3 innings. He topped out at 88 frames in the Cubs’ bullpen last year, which is why he’s being shut down prematurely.
Today is the 13th anniversary of one of the most exciting and iconic plays in postseason history. On October 17, 2004, the Yankees and the Red Sox faced off in Game 4 of the ALCS. The Yankees had a 3-0 lead in the series and held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox were three outs from being eliminated by the Yankees. Again.
Kevin Millar led off the inning facing Mariano Rivera and worked the greatest closer in baseball history for a walk. Terry Francona inserted Dave Roberts as a pinch runner. Everyone in the building knew that Roberts had one job: get to second base and scoring position. Despite everyone knowing it was coming, Roberts swiped second base. He’d come around to score, the Sox won the game in 12 innings, would win the next three and the World Series, completing the greatest comeback in postseason history and ending an 86-year championship drought.
Understandably, the Red Sox wanted to remember that wonderful day today. So they tweeted about it:
The Yankees, however, weren’t gonna let that one go by: