Jeff Samardzija has a tough opening act to follow.
After Johnny Cueto excelled in his San Francisco Giants debut, Samardzija attempts to pitch his new team to a three-game sweep of its season-opening series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
The Giants homered four times and collected 15 hits to support an ailing Madison Bumgarner in a 12-3 rout in Monday's opener, but relied on Cueto's sharp seven-inning effort to win 2-1 on Tuesday. The 2014 NL Cy Young runner-up yielded a run on six hits in his first outing since signing a six-year, $130 million with San Francisco in December.
"I'm going to be here for a long time based on the contract that I signed,'' Cueto said. ''It's good that I had a good outing, especially the first one.''
San Francisco also spent big on Samardzija in hopes of bolstering a rotation that lacked consistent options behind Bumgarner during last season's disappointing 84-78 finish. The right-hander received a five-year, $90 million deal despite a lackluster 11-13 record and 4.96 ERA in 32 starts with the Chicago White Sox in 2015.
Samardzija looked worthy of the investment by tossing five scoreless innings in his final spring tune-up, retiring 15 consecutive Oakland hitters after allowing a leadoff triple in Thursday's Bay Bridge exhibition.
He does draw a historically tough opponent in his initial assignment. Samardzija is 0-5 with a 4.85 ERA in nine career starts against Milwaukee and owns a 6.55 ERA in six starts at Miller Park, where he's surrendered seven homers in 39 2-3 innings.
Ryan Braun and Chris Carter have three career homers each off Samardzija, with Braun 10 of 20 against him and Carter 7 of 15.
Coming off a 94-loss season, this current Brewers team isn't as threatening as past editions as the organization undergoes a full-scale rebuilding phase with much of the top talent at the minor league level.
Milwaukee did receive a solid start from 26-year-old Jimmy Nelson on Tuesday and seeks another from Taylor Jungmann in the finale. The 2011 first-round pick is being moved up a day to take the scheduled turn of Matt Garza, placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a right lat strain that will sideline the veteran 4 to 6 weeks.
"I think Matt had a good spring. He had put himself in a good place to bounce back from 2015, so it's disappointing for him," manager Craig Counsell told MLB's official website.
Jungmann went 9-8 with a 3.77 ERA in 21 starts during a promising rookie campaign last season. He was particularly tough at home, winning his final four decisions and compiling a 5-2 record and 2.21 ERA in nine starts while allowing just two home runs in 53 innings.
The right-hander surrendered six homers in 17 1-3 innings in five spring training starts, however.
Nelson scattered five hits - one a solo homer from Brandon Crawford - and two runs over 7 1-3 innings.
The Giants have won 10 of 11 from Milwaukee and swept a three-game set at Miller Park last May.