All eyes will be on Jeff Samardzija on Sunday when he makes his first start as a member of the Oakland A's. Samardzija joined the green and gold Saturday, when Oakland officially announced its blockbuster trade with the Cubs.
Along with Jason Hammel, Samardzija will look to put the American League West leaders over the top. The right-hander will introduce himself to the Coliseum crowd in Sunday's four-game series finale against the Blue Jays.
"I'm right where I need to be, man," Samardzija said Saturday, when he joined the team in Oakland. "I've been begging for this for a while, situation-wise, of coming in every day to win games."
The A's ranked second in the Majors in ERA at 3.18 entering Saturday, but general manager Billy Beane still felt his pitching staff would benefit from added depth.
"This was an area a few weeks ago we absolutely felt like we had to address," Beane said Saturday morning. "Really started the process of trying to find at least one guy and ultimately decided we needed two guys … We thought they were two of the best guys available."
Samardzija is having an All-Star-caliber season, despite having just two wins to his name. His ERA is 2.83, and he has fanned 103 batters while walking just 31. The 29-year-old right-hander has spent the first six-plus years of his career with the Cubs, meaning Sunday will mark his first time pitching for an American League team.
In 15 Interleague appearances (nine starts), Samardzija is 2-6 with a 4.61 ERA. He has never faced the Blue Jays.
Samardzija will be a tough assignment for the Jays. Their offense is sputtering of late, and they have won just two of their last nine series.
Right-hander Drew Hutchison will get the ball for Toronto on the heels of one of his best starts of 2014. Hutchinson held the Brewers -- the second-leading offense in the National League -- to one run over seven innings on Tuesday, notching a career-high 10 strikeouts.
Like Samardzija, Hutchison will be seeing his opponent for the first time Sunday.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion leaves Saturday's game with quad soreness
Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion exited Saturday's game in the first inning with right quadricep soreness.
Encarnacion went down after beating out a potential double-play ball that brought home Toronto's first run. He remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field.
Adam Lind replaced Encarnacion -- who was credited with his 70th RBI -- at first base.
A's: Milone sent down to make room for Samardzija
Left-hander started Tommy Milone became a victim of numbers Saturday in the wake of Oakland's blockbuster trade with the Cubs, getting optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the 25-man roster for Samardzija.
A number of factors were working against Milone after the trade, including the Athletics' desire for bullpen depth after a 12-inning contest, coupled with the fact that Milone would not be available to pitch again for several days. Brad Mills, who will be replaced by Samardzija in the rotation Sunday, gave the A's an eighth bullpen option Saturday.
Milone has been fantastic since May 9, going 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts. Manager Bob Melvin struggled to find the right words to break the news to his southpaw.
"If you're in my position, what do you even say to a guy like that?" Melvin said. "He was a little bit shocked, and understandably so. But you haven't seen the last of Tommy Milone here."
• Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Derek Norris were all in line to start the All-Star Game in advance of Sunday's roster announcement. The A's have not had a fan-elected player since 2000.
• Encarnacion leads the Majors with 49 extra-base hits, ahead of the Angels' Mike Trout (48 entering Saturday).