Jeff Samardzija went out with a win in what most likely was his last start as a White Sox Tuesday night.
Samardzija (11-13, 4.96), who becomes a free agent after the season, finished a disappointing walk year with his second straight strong outing, pitching seven innings of two-run ball following a one-hit shutout against the Tigers.
“Sometimes it’s about just clearing your head and having fun out there, and enjoying what you’re doing instead of putting so much pressure on yourself,’’ he said after the Sox defeated the Royals 4-2.
Samardzija, 30, still figures to sign a big contract in free agency, but maybe not as much as he had hoped a big season would bring.
“I could care less,’’ he said. “I had enough money when I signed with the Cubs back in ’06. It’s more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game. To make the money we make, and have the fun we have, and travel the way we travel, that needs to be continued by players that are coming behind me and current players. For me, that’s important. Ultimately, I want to be in a winning situation and pitching in October.”
After one-hitting the Tigers in his previous start, Samardzija said he had been tipping his pitches in previous outings. After this one, he said he noticed his hands had been too far away from his body. Bringing them in kept him on a better line toward the plate.
He joked about his head snapping too often after balls were hit to gaps and over the fence.
“Um, you know, unsatisfied for me personally,” he said, summarizing his White Sox experience that began with an offseason trade with the Oakland A’s. “I had a big role in what happened this year [the Sox are 74-83 with five games to play], and just think about it, if you throw a couple better games here and there, instead of some clunkers like I did, we might be telling a little different story right now. But you let it all hang out every game and what happens, happens. Unfortunately it didn’t go my way as many times as I wanted to for this team, but, you know, that’s the way it goes.”
Samardzija will always remember rookie Trayce Thompson when he reflects on his final game as a Sox. Thompson, playing left field, made a diving, running catch of Ben Zobrist’s liner to prevent the tying run from scoring in the seventh.
“Unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Samardzija said. “I’ve seen some good catches before, been a part of a couple here and there, and that was one of the coolest ones I’ve seen in awhile. He closed a big gap on the ball and sold out for it. That guy needs to be in the lineup.”
Samardzija, like most Sox pitchers, wasn’t helped any by poor defense all season long.
“Dude can hit .050 for all I care. If you put that glove out there in the field, he’s going to make plays for you, a lot like that [Lorenzo] Cain guy [the Royals] have out there in their center field. So, he’s got to play. He’s a heck of a player and you want to see guys want to make those plays. You’ve got to want to be in the top 10 (plays) every night, and that’s what it’s all about.”