After slow start, Shark settles in with strong outing

After slow start, Shark settles in with strong outing

DETROIT -- Since allowing four runs to the Twins in the second inning of last Saturday's start at U.S. Cellular Field, Jeff Samardzija has been a different pitcher for the White Sox.

To be honest, Samardzija wasn't overly concerned about that somewhat struggling original version covering only eight innings.

"It's just early in the year. Power pitchers take a little more time to get going," said Samardzija, who yielded one run over eight innings against the Tigers on Friday afternoon at Comerica Park but didn't factor in the decision in Detroit's 2-1 victory.

He has given up that one run over his last 13 innings pitched.

"When it's cold and stuff, it's hard to get that [velocity] you want," Samardzija said. "For me, it's putting my head in the grindstone and going forward. You can't dwell on the past in this game. I'm better than that, so I want to come out and show who I am -- and I think we're getting there."

Samardzija's numbers looked great in Friday's series opener: seven strikeouts, no walks, eight hits allowed, a fastball hitting 96 mph and Yoenis Cespedes' leadoff homer in the fourth serving as the lone run. The right-hander's stats become even more impressive when factoring in his battles through the first five innings.

In the first, Samardzija stranded runners on second and third with one out by retiring J.D. Martinez and Cespedes. Samardzija pitched out of a first-and-third, nobody-out situation in the third, and he struck out Martinez with runners on first and third and two outs in the fifth. Samardzija also appeared to get stronger as the game went on, battling another potential free-agent-to-be in David Price over eight tightly-played innings, where the White Sox never had a runner in scoring position.

"He did a great job of allowing nobody to score," said Price of Samardzija. "I know how tough that is, especially with our lineup and the guys he had to face."

"I always feel better the last 50 or 60 pitches of a game," Samardzija said. "I know early in the game to pound the zone and get in the rhythm of the game and get quick outs. It's a great team, and I know from pitch one, I had to have a great day to do what we wanted to do."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.