Shark ready to head north after best spring outing

Shark ready to head north after best spring outing

MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija demonstrated his grasp of geography as he looked ahead to his initial regular-season start as a Giant, set for April 6 against the Brewers in the climate-controlled conditions of Milwaukee's Miller Park.

"Anything north of the Mason-Dixon line, come the start of the season, you hope it has a roof on it," he said Saturday.

Before referring to the north, Samardzija succeeded in flinging many of his pitches south -- toward the lower portion of the strike zone, that is. He recorded 11 of his 18 outs on ground balls while working six resolute innings in the Giants' 5-2 Cactus League triumph over the Cubs.

"I'm a ground-ball pitcher," Samardzija said, "so when I see numbers like that, I'm happy."

It was by far the best outing of the spring for Samardzija, the Giants' No. 3 starter, who entered the game with an 8.53 ERA in five starts. Control, however, was never a problem for the right-hander. He walked only four batters in 25 spring innings.

"I loved how I was pitching before," he said. "I was just hurt on balls up in the zone."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Matt Duffy lifted his batting average from .250 to .292 with a 3-for-4 afternoon that included his second spring home run. He also made a pair of diving stops to his left.

Duffy's solo homer

• Summoned again from Minor League camp, right-hander Jake Dunning continued to impress, striking out Ryan Dent to end the eighth inning and strand two runners.

Asked if Dunning was making a late run at a bullpen spot, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "That's why we keep bringing him over here. He's throwing the ball well."

Dunning, who had stints with the Giants in 2013-14, has recorded five of his seven outs on strikeouts.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.