Jeff Samardzija, acquired along with Jason Hammel by the Athletics on Friday, impressed in his first start with his new team. Facing the visiting Blue Jays, the right-hander allowed only one run on four hits and a walk while striking out five en route to a win, cinching a four-game series sweep over the Jays.
Samardzija yielded the lone run in the top of the sixth when the Jays put runners on second and third with one out following a Jose Reyes single and a Munenori Kawasaki double. Melky Cabrera followed up with a run-scoring ground out to second base. That was it. Closer Sean Doolittle gave up a run on a lead-off Steve Tolleson home run in the ninth before wrapping up the save.
Mimicking the Cubs, the Athletics didn’t give Samardzija much run support, scoring once in the second inning and twice in the fourth inning. They scored again in the bottom of the eighth, but Samardzija was not the pitcher of record. Samardzija went 2-7 over 17 starts with the Cubs despite posting a 2.83 ERA because the Cubs averaged a league-low 2.28 runs of support, per ESPN. Combining his time with the Cubs and Sunday’s debut with the Athletics, Samardzija is now 3-7 with a 2.74 ERA and a 108/32 K/BB ratio.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.