A PCL Pitchers' Duel!?
It's a shame there weren't more people there to see it because duels of legitimate pitching prospects like the one that played out last night at Principal Park are rare in the homer-happy Pacific Coast League.
The mundanely named Bud Norris and your own fighting Irishman with Samardzija scrabbled on his mail fought each other to a 2-2 standoff before Round Rock eventually prevailed 7-5.
For his part, Samardzija looked every bit the big leaguer in waiting as he carved his way through the Texans' lineup to the tune of six innings, one walk, five strikeouts, less than six dozen pitches and a lone hit, that unfortunately being a two-run homer by Reggie Abercrombie who would later blast an encore that put his team ahead to stay.
Samardzija offered first pitch strikes to 12 of the 21 hitters he faced and 49 of his mere 71 pitches were strikes.
His inning by inning pitch counts broke down thusly: 11,13,9,9,18, and 11. Abercrombie's homer followed a two-out walk in the 5th.
Samardzija hit more batters  than hit him.
The prodigious Jake Fox smote a tying two-run blast beyond the center field wall in the bottom of the sixth to swell his RBI total to 20 already in only 10 games. That finished Norris, Houston's #2 prospect, who appears as tenacious and hard-throwing as his counterpart. Both were throwing in the low to mid 90's and one can imagine them opposing each other in Houston and Chicago before much longer.
Between the 6th and 7th innings I spotted a very high-ranking Chicago Cub official in the seats directly behind home plate and wandered down to see if I might pick a little at his large brain. I introduced myself by name and affiliation.
"After the game," he said, "I'm working right now." as though he were a player and I an autograph hound. I said I didn't mean to interrupt; just thought I could ask a couple quickies between frames.
"Whaddaya wanna ask?" he gasped as his eyes rolled.
"Does Jake Fox have a big league future with this organization? Are other teams interested in him?"
"That's none of your business." the wheeler-dealer said. "Do you expect me to tell you what teams have asked me about him?"
"No," said I. "I just wondered if there's interest in him."
"Jake Fox is a big league hitter." he declared in summation.
Then followed an even briefer, but no less pleasant, discourse about young Mr. Samardzija's progress after which I thanked him for his time and left him to enjoy what remained of what I like to call the "I think my husband's home" race in which contestants scramble to dress themselves in a uniform ASAP and lunge across a finish line in pursuit of a gift certificate for a free oil change.
I hope the high-powered observer enjoyed the 7th inning stretch, by which time Samardzija had showered and I was on my way to a late showing of "State of Play". Russell Crowe also looked very sharp...MW