Jeff Samardzija keeps rolling, shuts out MLB’s top lineup

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Toronto has had by far the best offense in baseball this season, scoring 5.4 runs per game while none of the other teams are above 4.6 runs per game, but this afternoon the (admittedly short-handed) Blue Jays were no match for White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija, an impending free agent whose name has been popping up frequently in trade speculation, tossed a complete-game, four-hit shutout on just 108 pitches.

He’s had a disappointing season and carrying a 4.93 ERA into mid-June certainly wasn’t what the White Sox were hoping for when they acquired Samardzija from the A’s, but in his last six starts he’s now got a 2.40 ERA and 39/8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings. And he’s thrown at least seven innings in 11 of 13 starts since May 1.

Samardzija remains one of the best pitchers likely to be available at the trade deadline.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).