For the first two months of last season, Jeff Samardzija dominated the NL and became a prized July trade target. That success against the Senior Circuit vanished in his last start in Milwaukee and hasn’t returned.
His first outing against the NL since moving to the Chicago White Sox comes Monday night in Milwaukee against a Brewers team he’s never defeated as a starter.
Samardzija (2-2, 4.38 ERA) is returning from a five-game suspension for his involvement in a brawl against Kansas City, which pushed his start back a day and into a ballpark that hasn’t treated him well.
In eight starts against the Brewers, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 4.50 ERA, including an 0-3 mark with a 6.33 ERA at Miller Park. Factoring in seven relief efforts, his 6.09 ERA there is the highest among ballparks at which he’s made at least five appearances.
In his last, Samardzija allowed eight runs and eight hits in three innings of a 9-0 loss with the Chicago Cubs on June 1. Dating to that game, he’s 1-4 with a 6.63 ERA against the NL. Ryan Braun went deep and is 9 for 18 with three home runs against Samardzija, while Carlos Gomez’s two hits in nine at-bats are both homers.
This season, he’s yet to nail down the consistency he enjoyed in much of 2014, but he preceded the suspension by limiting Detroit to two runs and seven hits in seven innings of Tuesday’s 5-2 victory. His last five innings were scoreless after laboring early.
"With all things said, the way it went, I was happy to get out of those first couple of innings with just one," Samardzija told MLB’s official website. "For me, that’s it. If I can escape the inning with just a single digit, that’s fine. Just avoid those crooked numbers."
The White Sox (12-16) were able to do that in the last two of a three-game series with Cincinnati. Sunday’s 4-3 walk-off win gave them consecutive series victories after an 0-5 road trip. They’ve dropped six straight on the road, and their 2-11 away record is the worst in the majors.
"We obviously have to start sooner than later, but we’re playing good ball," said Gordon Beckham, who hit the game-winning single in the ninth inning against the Reds. "We just have to keep focusing on that and not really how we’ve played in the past. You can’t focus on anything but the present."
The Brewers (11-21) also won in walk-off fashion Sunday, beating the Cubs 3-2 on Martin Maldonado’s 11th-inning single. They’ve also been better lately with seven wins in 11 games after a 4-17 start.
"It is a great way to end it," said manager Craig Counsell, under whom the Brewers are 4-3. "It was another great team win."
It has a lot to do with a starting rotation that’s posted a 3.82 ERA in the last 11 after compiling a 5.55 mark through 21, and Wily Peralta is responsible with keeping it going.
Peralta (1-4, 3.92), who has never faced the White Sox, has been rather hittable with a .307 opponent average, though had one of his better showings in Wednesday’s 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers to earn his first victory. The right-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in eight innings after losing four straight starts.
It was also the first time in four starts he’d been given any run support. His 2.08 run support average is tied for fourth worst in the majors.