White Sox’ Jeff Samardzija suffers career-high sixth consecutive loss
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Teams shopping for free-agent pitchers in the offseason might find Jeff Samardzija on the sale rack after a dismal August.
The clearance bin could be next if Samardzija doesn’t turn things around in September.
The White Sox right-hander lost a career-high sixth consecutive start Saturday in a 7-6 loss to the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field. He gave up five runs, eight hits and three walks in 5⅔ innings.
“It’s not easy, but it’s not an easy game,” Samardzija said. “You usually learn a lot about yourself during stretches like this and you improve as a person, you improve as a baseball player and you keep going.”
The poor showing polished off an unsightly month. Samardzija’s final pitching line in August: 33⅔ innings, 47 hits, 33 earned runs, eight home runs and 13 walks.
Samardzija was a hot name on the trade market before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and had pitched like an ace in the leadup to it.
He then gave up five runs or more in five of his six starts this month, inflating his ERA from 3.94 to 4.85. The only reprieve was a one-run outing against the Angels on Aug. 19 — which the Sox lost 1-0.
The 33 runs Samardzija allowed in August are the most in the majors.
With free agency looming in the offseason, how much will the right-hander be worth? He still has a few more starts to help his cause.
“You go out and do your job every fifth day, and there’s things you can’t control,” Samardzija said after the deadline passed last month. “You don’t worry about it.”
The Mariners got to Samardzija immediately, putting their first four batters on base.
Samardzija had a 1-2 count against leadoff hitter Ketel Marte, but the shortstop lined a single to right field. After again working a 1-2 count to Kyle Seager, Samardzija gave up a two-run home run.
He then walked Nelson Cruz and gave up a single to Robinson Cano. Cruz scored on a sacrifice fly by Seth Smith.
The first three outs have been especially tough for Samardzija, who owns a 7.67 ERA in the first inning this season. Batters are hitting .343 against him in the first.
“Those first innings are rough to get out of,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s not just him. We’ve had that with a few guys, being able to get out of the first.”
Ventura insisted that Samardzija is the same competitor he’s always been and his preparedness isn’t a question.
“As far as being prepared and competitiveness, all that stuff is as good as it’s going to get,” Ventura said. “You see him prepare not only for tonight’s game, but in between starts and all that. He’s a gamer.”
The Mariners added a fourth run in the third inning with back-to-back doubles from Cano and Smith. Brad Miller doubled and scored in the fourth.
Ventura took Samardzija out after he surrendered a single to Jesus Sucre with two outs in the sixth. Samardzija threw 119 pitches.
“You always have a couple games where you don’t make 100 percent great pitches,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes they turn to pop outs or roll overs. Just for me recently, they’ve been coming up to bite me in the butt.”
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