Samardzija quick to pick up first save
Two days after joining Cubs, rookie closes game
Former Notre Dame All-American wide receiver Jeff Samardzija already has the first save of his career.
The hard-throwing right-hander worked two no-hit innings with three strikeouts in the Cubs' 9-6 win over the Florida Marlins on Sunday -- just two days after joining the club.
"Every time I go out, I want to instill some confidence in the coaching staff," Samardzija told MLB.com. "That's all you can do. When you're down in the bullpen, they get to pick and choose on who they want to go to and when they want to go to you."
General manager Jim Hendry said before the game that Samardzija "could close some day." That day came sooner than many thought, even if it was just a spot save.
"Even in the brief sightings of him, I don't think there's any doubt now why we [drafted him]," Hendry said. "He's got the whole package -- a great arm, the intangibles."
Move to No. 2 spot proves fruitful for Tejada: Miguel Tejada hasn't hit second in the lineup regularly since his days in Oakland. But on Saturday night, manager Cecil Cooper inserted Tejada into the No. 2 hole in an effort to spark his bat. The move appears to have worked.
Tejada went 4-4 and scored a run. On Sunday, he added two more hits in four at-bats and drove in three runs to raise his average to .281.
"There is a little rationale behind it," Cooper told the Houston Chronicle. "I want to see if it will help him, hitting in front of Lance [Berkman]. Some guys it helps; some guys it doesn't matter. Maybe with him, it will spark him."
Schumaker's six-hit parade a rarity: Skip Schumaker tied a 73-year-old Cardinals record on Saturday night when he picked up six hits (in seven at-bats) in the Cardinals' 14-inning, 10-8 win over the Mets. St. Louis outfielder Terry Moore had six hits against the Boston Braves way back in 1935.
"Someone told me yesterday that [it had been that long]," Schumaker told MLB.com. "With all the greats that have been through here, it's pretty amazing. It took 14 innings, but even saying that, I'll take that [six hits] any week."
Paulino moves closer to a return: Felipe Paulino, on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his upper right arm, took a step forward Saturday, when he threw off the mound. It was the first time he's thrown off a mound since the spring, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"I'm feeling great," Paulino said. "This is the first time I've thrown my slider and curveball on the hill. I felt strong and mechanically was making progress. It's just a matter of time before I'm ready for a game."
Laird handed catching duties after activation: Saturday was a good day for Gerald Laird. Not only did the Texas catcher come off the disabled list, but manager Ron Washington told him that he would be the team's regular catcher, getting four to five starts per week.
"That's what I want to do," Laird told The Dallas Morning News. "This is what I've wanted to do the whole year. I'm happy about the chance."
Nady, Marte are latest additions in the Bronx: The Yankees traded several Minor League prospects to the Pirates for outfielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte this weekend. General manager Brian Cashman made the deal in order to help the club this season, but also to help the team in 2009.
"I wouldn't have done it if it was a rental for a few months," Cashman told the New York Daily News. "The fact that we have the flexibility to go into next year with both these pieces or get draft picks back allowed this discussion to go further and ultimately be completed."
Nady won't be a free agent until after the 2009 season and can play both left field and right field. The club holds an option on Marte, allowing them to bring back the left-hander next season.
Reyes gets hitched; celebration comes later: Jose Reyes had a reason to be happy on Friday after he married his longtime girlfriend during a ceremony at City Hall. The real celebration will come during the offseason.
"After the season, in the Dominican Republic [we'll celebrate]," he told Newsday.
Reyes said his wife "was real happy. She was crying and everything."
Carpenter's return is welcomed after long road: Chris Carpenter was just a successful bullpen session away from rejoining the Cardinals as they prepared for this week's series against the Braves. Carpenter was scheduled to throw on Monday and possibly rejoin the rotation as soon as Wednesday.
"Best news we've had," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Give me something else that comes close to it."
Lidge's slider deemed tops in NL by Helms: Count Wes Helms of the Marlins among those impressed by Brad Lidge's slider.
"When Brad puts his slider where he wants to, there's not a hitter in the league who can put it in play hard," Helms, who is 3-for-9 against Lidge during his career, told the Philadelphia Daily News. "If it's down, you're not going to drive it. It's the top slider in the league."
Maturation process continues for Sowers: Jeremy Sowers didn't figure in the decision in the Indians' 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, but he did breeze through five perfect innings to start the game.
"I consider myself a more advanced pitcher than I was two years ago," Sowers told MLB.com. "There was probably some lack of scouting and luck I was able to get away with back then. Now, it's about staying one step ahead, as opposed to getting away with stuff because there's hours of film on you.
"I guess there are no secrets anymore, so you just have to keep them guessing with the stuff they know you have."
Beam continues to shine in relief: T.J. Beam tossed four innings of relief on Saturday night for the Pirates, having worked 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball against the Rockies on July 19.
"I'm starting to build confidence, and having an outing like that is good for a young pitcher like me to really build confidence," Beam told MLB.com. "[It helps] to know that I can pitch here and I belong here."
Hermida relishes lack of roar from the crowd: The Marlins handed the Cubs a rare home loss when Jeremy Hermida delivered a pinch-hit home run to lift Florida to a 3-2 win over Chicago on Friday. Hermida reveled in turning the rowdy Cubs fans quiet.
"Silence," Hermida told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel with a wry smile after the win. "On the road, that's always the best sound you can hear, but here it's great. To quiet those fans down, it takes a lot."
Milledge has big plans after missing 20 games: After missing 20 games with an injured groin, Lastings Milledge returned for the Nationals on Friday, and he hopes to have a strong finish to his first year as a full-time starter in the Majors.
"When I was named the starting center fielder on Opening Day," Milledge told The Washington Post, "I still had a lot of work to do because I hadn't played there for a year and a half. I'm very committed. Very committed to being the player everybody wants me to be. I feel like I will get there, and, at the end of the day, everybody will be happy to be having me in center field. Whether I meet the expectations of what they wanted me to do this year? I don't know, we'll have to find out. But, when it's all said and done, and I become a veteran, I think everybody will be happy."
Kershaw chalks up first Major League win: Clayton Kershaw picked up his first Major League win as he shut out the Nationals for six innings on Sunday.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time," Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times.
"This is what they expected of me. That's what I'm supposed to do."
Oswalt set for return from DL: Slowed by a left hip strain that has limited him to one inning of work this month, Roy Oswalt threw nearly 30 pitches off the mound at Miller Park on Friday and declared himself ready to come off the disabled list.
"It went pretty well," the Houston right-hander told the Houston Chronicle. "I felt no pain. Hopefully, I can get out there and get some innings."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.