The Cubs finally scored a run for Jeff Samardzija

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Ryan Sweeney’s game-tying RBI single in the top of the seventh inning against the Cardinals on Friday night may have seemed innocent, but it ended a rather embarrassing stretch devoid of any run support for starter Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs were shut out with Samardzija on the bump in his first two starts of the 2014 season and entering the seventh inning Friday night (a span of 20 innings). They were also shut out in his final start of the 2013 season, and did not score with him as the pitcher of record in his second to last start either.

The last time they had scored for him entering tonight’s start was on September 17, 2013 when they put up a three-spot in the seventh inning against Brewers starter Marco Estrada. Samardzija put up a zero in the bottom half of the inning and exited.

As for Friday’s start, Samardzija held the Cardinals to one run over seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out four without issuing a walk. He was the pitcher of record when the Cubs scored two more runs in the eighth inning to take a 3-1 lead. Samardzija has pitched well through his first three starts of the 2014 season, currently sitting with a 1.29 ERA.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.