MLB In Full Bloom - Samardzija Shines in Athletics Debut - 7/7/2014

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Jeff Samardzija pitched seven strong innings to win his Oakland debut and the Athletics beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep. Samardzija, acquired on Saturday in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, received several standing ovations. He was cheered during pregame warmups and again after striking out the side in the seventh. Samardzija gave up one run and four hits. He struck out five and walked one while earning his first win since June 7. With the Cubs, Samardzija was 2-7 despite a 2.83 ERA. This is a trade that is a win-win situation for the Athletics and the Cubs. The Athletics sent a message to the rest of the American League that they are in it to win now by acquiring Samardzija and Jason Hammel. In return, the Cubs received the A's 2013 first-round pick, CF Billy McKinney and Dan Straily, but the big piece was shortstop Addison Russell. The 20-year old is ranked as the tenth-best prospect in baseball. The Cubs already have Starlin Castro playing short, plus stud shortstop prospect Javier Baez in the wings. Shift somebody to third, you say? Kris Bryant, slugging .707 between Double-A and Triple-A this season, disagrees. I have no clue how the Cubs will eventually navigate this backlog of awesome prospects, but I’m guessing Theo Epstein isn’t complaining right now. This is the kind of trade that benefits everybody involved. The A’s solidify themselves as World Series favorites and the Cubs fortify an already stacked farm system.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored as the Yankees beat the Twins 9-7 on Sunday. Ellsbury hit a three-run home run to cap the scoring against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco. He also doubled, had an RBI groundout and scored a run in the game. The outfielder is batting .284 in his first year in the Bronx.
  • Paul Goldschmidt went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run in Sunday's 3-1 win over the Braves. Goldschmidt finished up a strong week by hitting his 16th home run of the season off Alex Wood. His two runs batted in gives him 58 RBI for the year, third-most in the National League. Goldschmidt was 11-for-22 (.500) with four doubles, a triple, the homer, five runs scored and five RBI to start July.
  • Corey Kluber struck out 10 while coming just two outs shy of a complete game in Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Royals. Kluber gave up just four hits and walked only one. Kluber has allowed just four runs over his previous four starts to lower his ERA to 2.86. He'll face the White Sox at home in his final start of the first half.
  • Santiago Casilla will serve as the Giants closer for now according to manager Bruce Bochy. Casilla picked up his third save of the season in Sunday's victory over the Giants and had been outstanding in his setup role. Bochy also said that he preferred to use Jeremy Affeldt in his seventh-inning role where he is able to go multiple innings. Casilla should be owned and started in all mixed leagues.
  • Alfonso Soriano was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees on Sunday. Soriano belted 17 home runs in 58 games after being picked up by the Yankees last season, but he's hit just .221 with six home runs in 67 games this year. Given his $18 million salary, he'll obviously clear waivers. However, he shouldn't have trouble finding a team willing to give him a shot at the league minimum
  • Jose Bautista finished as the top overall vote getter in the American League and will start in the outfield for the American League in the 2014 All-Star Game. He'll be joined by Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Josh Donaldson, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Salvador Perez and Nelson Cruz in the starting lineup for the American League. Perez was named as a replacement for Matt Wieters who was the leading vote getter behind the plate.
  • Troy Tulowitzki finished as the top overall vote getter in the National League and will start at shortstop in the 2014 All-Star Game. He'll be joined in the National League starting lineup by Paul Goldschmidt, Chase Utley, Aramis Ramirez, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig and Yadier Molina. Tulowitzki is very deserving of this tremendous fan support, as he leads the National League in OBP, slugging percentage, OPS and runs scored.
  • Clayton Kershaw extended his scoreless inning streak to 36 innings with eight shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies on Friday night. This is the 3rd longest streak since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. During this streak, there has been only been 9 runners in scoring position. Just for the record, if you take out Kershaw's one bad start (May 17), he has a 1.16 ERA this season. He owns a 1.85, which is an MLB best, and he will be the starting pitcher for the National League in this year's All Star Game.