Jeff Samardzija impresses in debut with the Athletics

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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.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.