The Grand Slam: Jeff Samardzija gets first win of the season, finally

Maybe this is how it was supposed to be all along. Jeff Samardzija, the MLB ERA leader coming into Monday's game, gave up a season-high three earned runs, but he also got a season-high eight runs from the Chicago Cubs offense.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the formula for a pitcher earning a win. For Samardzija, the tough-luck loser of the 2014 season, it was his first win of the season.

Whether you, the fan, views the pitching win as a viable statistic (and many don't, understandably), it obviously mattered to Samardzija, who was 0-4 on the season with a 1.46 ERA, a victim of shoddy run support from the Cubs. After his team's 8-4 win against the San Francisco Giants, Samardzija stood in the clubhouse soaked by celebratory beer, and told reporters:

"People try to downplay the record thing, but as a starting pitcher, I think it's important," said Samardzija, who has handled the lack of wins better than anyone. "I care, I want to keep working hard and come out every day and try to get a win. That's all you can do."

Samardzija will likely face run-support issues all season long with the offense-challenged Cubs. But, if he keeps up his sharp work on the mound, he's likely to find himself on another team when the trade deadline rolls around, and maybe that won't be so bad.

GEORGE SPRINGER GOES OFF: George Springer struggled when he was called up from Triple-A, but the Houston Astros rookie has been straight raking the last couple weeks. Monday in the Astros' 9-2 win over the Kansas City Royals (in which Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura left the game with elbow discomfort), Springer had one of the best games of his young career. He was 4-for-4 at the plate with a homer, four RBIs and five runs scored. He also made a great catch in right field.

After the sluggish start, Springer is now hitting .268 with eight homers and 25 RBIs.

METS COLLAPSE LATE, SEND PEOPLE PACKING: The New York Mets lost 5-3 Monday, blowing a 2-0 as the Pittsburgh Pirates scored five runs in the eighth and ninth innings. It was the kind of deflating loss after which General Manager Sandy Alderson deemed change was necessary.

So, relief pitcher Jose Valverde, who took the loss and gave up four earned runs, was released and Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens was fired. Mets manager Terry Collins was spicy in his postgame press conference:

''Don't think for one second that there's not a guy in there that realizes that this is part of it. We just released one of the best professionals I ever been around in Jose Valverde,'' Collins said. ''You deal with it, and if you can't you don't belong in the game.''

Lamar Johnson, who played nine seasons from 1974 to 1982, mostly with the Chicago White Sox, is the team's new hitting coach.

A'S GET BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS, CRUSH TIGERS: The Oakland Athletics had lost four games in a row entering Monday. Facing the Detroit Tigers, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the past two seasons, Oakland had one heck of a bounce-back day.

The A's crushed five homers in a 10-0 bruising of Detroit. Kyle Blanks, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes hit homers, while Derek Norris added a grand slam. It was the most homers in a game for the A's since 2009.

For the rest of Monday's results, check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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