Jeff Samardzija has made it clear since he was drafted by the Cubs how much he wanted to be known as a big league starting pitcher, and not a one-time All-America wide receiver. On Sunday, he looked a lot like the former.
Samardzija struck out a career-best eight and gave up four hits over 8 2/3 innings as the Cubs edged the Nationals, 4-3, to give manager Dale Sveum his first win.
This was Samardzija's sixth career start and first since September 2010 after spending last season in the bullpen. He won a spot in the rotation this spring, and on Sunday, he was effective, throwing first-pitch strikes to all but five of the 31 batters he faced. It was his longest career outing, topping a six-inning start Sept. 19, 2010, against the Marlins.
"I really feel I had a chip on my shoulder," Samardzija said. "I've talked a big game about wanting to start, and made it public. I don't want to look like an idiot. I wanted to come out and do what I needed to do and be in the zone, and let the guys behind me work."
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