Tough loss for White Sox, no-decision for Jeff Samardzija

SHARE Tough loss for White Sox, no-decision for Jeff Samardzija
SHARE Tough loss for White Sox, no-decision for Jeff Samardzija

DETROIT – This was the kind of game the White Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija for, pitch-for-pitch dogfights with aces like David Price. Both of them pitched eight outstanding innings and allowed one run each in the Tigers’ 2-1 victory Friday afternoon, on homers by Avisail Garcia in the second and Yoenis Cespedes in the fourth.

While Price’s outing was relatively trouble-free, Samardzija had to battle through several rough spots. He won almost all of them while giving up eight hits, but he did not walk a batter for the second straight start and pitching out of trouble in the third, fifth and seventh innings. Samardzija left with the score tied at 1, then watched the Tigers win in the bottom of the ninth against lefty Zach Duke to drop the Sox to 3-6.

“I learned over the past few years when you’re facing the other team’s ace you have to be ready to go,’’ Samardzija said. “You can’t make any mistakes and that homer to Cespedes was the difference in the game. If I could have one pitch back it would be that one.’’

If manager Robin Ventura could have one decision back it might be to have challenged a call at second base in the ninth inning, although replay evidence of Nick Castellanos sliding safely into second with a leadoff double might not have been definitive enough to overturn Brian O’Nora’s “safe” call. When Jose Iglesias’ single against Zach Duke scored pinch-runner Andrew Romine with the winning run, Samardzija’s performance was overshadowed by the call and non-challenge.

For Samardzija, it was just another no-decision or loss he learned to cope with as a Cub. He’s had one bad start, one that got better as it went along and one very good one, and he’ll take an 0-1 record and 4.29 ERA into his next outing.

As he often does, Samardzija got better as he went along, throwing 95-96 mph fastballs past Miguel Cabrera and Cespedes in the eighth.

Price (2-0, 0.40 ERA) gave up four hits and two walks and struck out nine. The Sox did not have a runner in scoring position (aside from the Garcia homer) against him or Joakim Soria the entire game.

Duke put a Tiger in scoring position right away in the ninth, but almost avoided trouble when Garcia, playing right field, almost threw out Castellanos at second. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez said he tagged Castellanos on the toe, but manager Robin Ventura did not challenge umpire Brian O’Nora’s call. Samardzija saw the angle on a replay shown in the visitors clubhouse that appeared to show Ramirez’ glove tipping Castellanos’ shoe.

“Yeah I saw it. Thought he was out, you know?” Samardzija said.

Should it have been reviewed?

“Yes, I think that we were in the ninth inning — you have to review the play,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “I think that maybe they missed the play the first time on the video, but I am 100 percent I tagged him. If you are going to lose, you don’t want to lose in this way.”

The Sox video crew apparently saw a replay that made it appear as though he was safe.

“They said he missed him,” Ventura said.

“You could just go out and challenge it anyway [with nothing to lose in the ninth inning], but when you get a “he missed him,’ you don’t challenge it.”

Ventura, though went on the field a second time to discuss making a challenge but Avila had stepped into the batter’s box. Too late.

It’s early for Samardzija, but he seems to be turning it around after he gave up nine homers during spring training and five runs to the Royals on Opening Day. He hasn’t allowed a run since he gave up four in the second inning to the Minnesota Twins in his previous start at U.S. Cellular Field last Saturday.

Something seemed to click after that second inning.

“It’s early in the year,” he said. “Power pitchers take a little more time to get going. When it’s cold it’s hard to get that velo you want. For me it’s putting my hat in the grindstone and going forward. You can’t dwell on the past in this game. I’m better that that so I want to come out and show who I am and I think we’re getting there.’’

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