Giants’ Samardzija off DL to face Cardinals
SAN FRANCISCO — Two teams expecting key pitchers to be ready for their regular duties clash Saturday afternoon when the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants lock horns for the third time in their four-game series.
The clubs have split the first two games, with the Cardinals doing pretty much all the hitting in an 11-2 shellacking on Thursday night, before the Giants got the better of a pitchers’ duel in a 3-2 victory on Friday.
Samardzija (1-4, 6.56) struggled through pectoral and shoulder soreness in April and May before being shelved.
“I always willed myself through little injuries and pains here and there along the way,” Samardzija told SFGate.com. “I thought with a little break, I’d be fine. It just ended up being an uphill battle the whole time. We feel back to normal.”
He pitched well against the Cardinals last season, allowing a total of one run and seven hits in 15 innings in two starts, striking out 17.
He didn’t get a decision in either game, both of which the Giants won.
Samardzija has faced the Cardinals 23 times in his career, 12 times as a starter, and has a 4-4 record with a 3.68 ERA.
The veteran’s return means the Giants will have their three top guns — Madison Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija — in the rotation at the same time for the first time this season.
Samardzija will be opposed by Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez (5-4, 3.20), who is coming off consecutive strong outings against Cleveland and Arizona, giving up a total of four runs in 12 innings in a pair of wins.
He will be pitching in San Francisco for just the second time in his career, having allowed one run in five innings in a Cardinals win in 2014.
Martinez is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in his career against the Giants in five games, including three starts.
The 26-year-old has dominated his head-to-heads with several of the Giants’ top hitters, including Buster Posey (1-for-9, .111) and Andrew McCutchen (7-for-39, .179). McCutchen delivered the eventual game-winning hit in Friday’s San Francisco win.
St. Louis welcomed back Paul DeJong from the DL on Friday and he responded immediately with a hit and scored both of the Cardinals’ runs.
The standout second baseman had been out for seven weeks with a fractured hand.
The Cardinals didn’t have closer Bud Norris available to them in the first two games of the series after he experienced pain in his right index finger in Arizona on Wednesday.
Norris, a San Francisco Bay Area native, underwent an MRI on Friday and was cleared to remain on the active roster.
He threw a side session before Friday’s game and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced he would be available to pitch on Saturday.
“At this point in this season, we’re going to get every look at every guy we can,” Matheny said of recent roster shuffling that included the return outfielder Dexter Fowler from the DL on Thursday. “Whenever they get a runny nose, I think we’ll have two different doctors check it out. It’s that kind of year. Be cautious when we can.”
Fowler hasn’t started either game in the series, but is a candidate to play Saturday based on his five career extra-base hits, including a home run, in 33 at-bats against Samardzija.