Samardzija Sharp … Cubs Toss Another Spring Shutout – Cubs 2, Indians 0

Spring Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 2, Indians 0
WP – Jeff Samardzija (3-1) LP – Josh Tomlin (0-2) Save – Rafael Dolis (3)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs posted their second straight spring win on Wednesday afternoon and dating back to March 21, Dale Sveum’s team has won five of seven.

The Cubs pitching staff posted their second shutout of the week behind another strong spring outing from Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija rebounded nicely from his horrible outing against the Rockies and allowed just three hits over six shutout innings. Samardzija issued his first free pass of the spring, stuck out five and at one point retired seven in a row (third through the fifth inning). If Jeff Samardzija was truly pitching for a spot in the rotation Wednesday, he did nothing but help his own cause … plus Samardzija was 1-for-2 at the plate and led off the fifth with a triple.

Carlos Marmol walked a batter in his one inning of work but ended up facing the minimum in the seventh. James Russell pitched his way in and out of a jam in the eighth without allowing a run. And despite walking a pair in the ninth, Rafael Dolis picked up his third save of the spring and likely cemented his spot in the Cubs’ pen.

Sveum’s staff allowed just five hits with seven strikeouts and four walks on Wednesday afternoon.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent. The Cubs pounded out 10 hits but could not string any together against Josh Tomlin until the sixth inning.

Bryan LaHair (1-for-3 with a RBI) stayed hot and drove in Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a run scored) with the Cubs first run of the game. Ian Stewart (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) scored the Cubs’ second run on a single by Joe Mather (1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk).

While spring wins and losses do not matter, it is nice to see the Cubs have a .500 record in the Cactus League (14-14-1) with six games remaining on the schedule …

Jeff Samardzija found himself in trouble in the opening inning. Four pitches into the game, Jason Kipnis hit a double to center (1-2 pitch). Asdrubal Cabrera popped out to center and Shin-Soo Choo flied out to deep center for the second out. Kipnis advanced to third on Choo’s fly but was stranded when Samardzija struck out Travis Hafner swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

The top of the Cubs’ lineup was not a factor Wednesday afternoon. Other than a one out single by Blake DeWitt, the Cubs did nothing against Josh Tomlin in the first (Campana, flied out to right; Castro lined out to right; Soriano struck out looking).

Samardzija retired Carlos Santana on a pop out to Castro to begin the second. Casey Kotchman lined Samardzija’s first pitch into right … but Russ Canzler grounded out to third, Kotchman was forced at second and Jack Hannahan grounded out to second to end the inning. The Indians would not manage another hit off Samardzija until the sixth.

Ian Stewart led off the second and ripped a 1-1 pitch into the right field corner. Geovany Soto struck out looking (2-2 pitch) and LaHair tapped out in front of the plate (swinging bunt). Stewart advanced to third on the play. Tomlin wanted nothing to do with Joe Mather and walked him on five pitches.

With runners on first and third with two down, Jeff Samardzija put together a good at bat that he thought ended with a walk. Samardzija took a 2-2 offering and thought it was ball four. Samardzija had to be called back and struck out swinging to end the inning.

Samardzija made quick work of Aaron Cunningham (ground out to third) and Jason Kipnis (struck out swinging) to start the third. Samardzija walked Cabrera on four pitches, the first walk Samardzija has allowed this spring. Choo hit Samardzija’s first pitch to Castro up the middle … Castro spun around and made a strong throw to first to nail Choo. Inning over.

Tony Campana led off the third and slapped a single into left … but DeWitt (flied out to right), Castro (flied out to center) and Soriano (pop out to third) went down in order.

After three complete, still no score.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Indians in order in the fourth.

Ian Stewart started the fourth by striking out. Geovany Soto followed with a single to left and was erased when LaHair hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice. Cabrera dropped the ball on the exchange or it would have been an inning ending double play. Mather “fouled out” to Santana to end the inning.

The Indians did nothing against Samardzija in the fifth. Samardzija struck out the side in order.

Jeff Samardzija led off the fifth in a scoreless game … and tripled. But the top of the Cubs order could not drive him in and in fact could not get the ball out of the infield. Campana grounded out to third, DeWitt fouled out to third and Castro popped out to first. Inning over … still nothing-nothing after five.

Jason Kipnis led off the sixth with the Indians’ third hit of the game off Samardzija. Cabrera grounded out to first, Kipnis advanced to second and Choo advanced Kipnis to third with a ground out to second. Samardzija ended his day by retiring Travis Hafner on grounder to second.

Alfonso Soriano led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to left. Ian Stewart followed with a single to right. With runners on first and second with no outs, Geovany Soto struck out swinging.

Bryan LaHair put the Cubs on the board with a single to center. Soriano scored and Stewart ended up at third. Joe Mather lined a 0-2 pitch into left center. Stewart scored, 2-0 Cubs. Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija and stuck out.

Rafael Perez replaced Tomlin and retired Tony Campana (struck out swinging) for the third out.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen in the seventh … and Blake Lalli (1B) and Steve Clevenger (C) took over in the field.

Marmol ended up facing the minimum after Carlos Santana fouled out to Starlin Castro for the first out. Casey Kotchman walked and Ryan Spilborghs ran for the first baseman. Marmol struck out Russ Canzler swinging … and Clevenger threw out Spilborghs at second to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Frank Herrmann in the bottom of the seventh.

James Russell ended up getting the job done but after a string of good outings, Russell struggled Wednesday.

Felix Pie reached on a one-out single to center. After Kipnis popped out to shallow center for the second out, Asdrubal Cabrera ripped a double into left. Pie held at third with two outs. Russell struck out Shin-Soo Choo swinging to end the inning.

Steve Clevenger reached on a one-out single in the eighth off Dan Wheeler but was doubled off first when Blake Lalli lined out to Russ Canzler.

Rafael Dolis made it interesting in the ninth. Dolis retired Shelley Duncan on a pop out to Castro to start the inning. Dolis then issued back-to-back walks to Luke Carlin and Ryan Spilborghs. Russ Canzler fouled out to Clevenger on a 2-2 pitch for the second out.

Rafael Dolis ended the game by breaking Jason Donald’s bat and inducing a grounder to second for the 27th out … exhibition game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs make the long trip from Mesa to Peoria on Thursday to face the Padres … Chris Volstad against Clayton Richard.

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Quote of the Day

"Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams." – Roger Craig

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  • Tony Spumoni

    I was at the game today.  Here are a few thoughts:
    – It was cute when Samardzija “walked” in the second inning.  At first he looked stunned that Tomlin had walked the pitcher.  Then he trotted halfway to first.  When he struck out I didn’t feel bad ’cause at least he swung his way to strike three.  Unlike Soto (in the same inning) and Soriano (in the first inning), both of whom looked at strike 3.
    – It was nice sitting in the shade (Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart).
    – Parking real close for $7.00 – Yes!!
    – Fergie Jenkins was there (signing baseballs).  Cool!!
    – Carlos Marmol went 3 up and 3 down in his inning of relief (thanks to a “strike ‘im out – throw ‘im out” double play).
    – I especially enjoyed the small scale of everything in Mesa.

    I’d like to see a replay of:
    – The play on which Soto was called out at second base on a dropped ball;
    – The play on which Joe Mather was called out on a bobbled foul ball;
    – The Jeff Baker strikeout pitch in the 6th inning.

    Starlin Castro made a number of “outstanding” plays:
    – Caught 2 foul flies deep into left field 
    – In the 3rd inning Starlin made a nice pickup to the RIGHT side of second base and threw out Shin-Soo Choo
    – Mr. Castro is the real deal, folks

    Ian Stewart made a very nice Fielder’s Choice play in the top of the second: charging in, picking up a weird hop, then throwing behind himself to second base for the out.  Immediately thereafter he led off the bottom of the second with a solid double to right.

    Go Cubs Go!!

    • cubtex

      I noticed that last year and mentioned it to Paul. Castro is excellent at chasing down fly balls. He has all the tools to be a very good shortstop.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree, he does have range. I have to throw this in tho.
        This is not a negative on Castro at all, but I have a feeling he will have a tough time getting untracked with the bat this year.
        I hope he is not getting long ball fever(they will come)
        because he’s going to be in the number three spot.
        It’s a different venue for him, and hope he dosent think that he has to drive in runs and just be natural, that will work.

        • cubtex

          I agree he will probably be less patient in the 3 hole. I am afraid his K rate will go up.

        • Ripsnorter1

          The pressure of those allegations against him, too, work on the mind. 

          • Theboardrider

            I don’t think that can be stated enough Rip.  Imagine what a distraction that must be to a 22 year old…

  • jw

    Yalza !!!! Looking good!

  • cubtex

    It appears both Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzales will both make the major league roster. Flaherty has had a decent spring but Gonzales hit under .200 Flaherty will be with the Orioles and Gonzales with the Astros.

    • Neil

      Thanks for posting …

      Before all of the complaining starts, everyone please keep in mind Randy Wells made the Blue Jays Opening Day roster in 2008. Wells pitched in one game (faced four batters) and was offered back to the Cubs.

      • cubtex

        I think most assumed they would both make the teams. At least I did( more because it is the Orioles and Astros)

      • Aaron

        I am anxiously awaiting the decisions this evening.

        I doubt there will be any surprises at all.

        De La Cruz, Mateo, and Gaub all appear to be DFA candidates…I guess we’ll see. Unless the Cubs can unload Byrd, Baker, or DeWitt, that’s how I see it.

        As for Flaherty and Gonzalez, they were only tough to lose in the offseason, because if you think back to that time, Baker and DeWitt had yet to be tendered contracts. It made no sense at the time, because they would’ve been adequate bench players….not starters…but bench players, and I’d argue that Flaherty at least had potential with his power and decent overall stats in the minors to have a shot at a starting gig.

        But looking at the way the roster is constructed at present, with the Cubs having acquired Stewart (same day as losing Gonzalez and Flaherty…no doubt expediting that particular trade…though the inclusion of LeMahieu still is, and certainly was at the time highly questionable given the circumstances), it doesn’t really mean anything right now that Flaherty and Gonzalez are gone.

        In fact, I’m not anticipating ever getting them back. Position players have a habit of sticking around with the drafting teams. Pitchers, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. The reason for that is fairly simple….the pitchers can often times contribute more significantly to losses than a bench player like Flaherty or Gonzalez, who are often times relegated to pinch hitting duties and spot starts here and there….so unless they’re committing an error every game they play in, they really don’t factor much into wins and losses. Hopefully I explained that well.

        It’s also worth noting that pitchers dominate Rule 5 Drafts, as teams will only take position players they feel they can stash on their roster the whole year. The thought process with pitchers usually is the drafting teams will take a flier on them, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Therefore, if that’s how teams draft with the “sure bets” being position players, and the wild cards being the pitchers, then it’s only natural the position talent sticks with the team the whole year.

        It’s just a shame that we have to watch the Baker and DeWitt show for the 3rd year in a row. With DeWitt, they basically have received a guy that hits in the .250’s, low .300’s OBP, around 5 hr, and 25 RBI

        With Baker, the average is more wide ranging from (.305 his first year, to .272 to .269 last year, and the OBP has fluctuated widely too from .362, .326, .302), but what is nearly identical is his offensive production levels: 4 hr, 21 RBI; 4 hr, 21 RBI; 3 hr, 23 RBI…both DeWitt and Baker have averaged a little over 200 AB’s per season for the Cubs….and that is why I’m so upset with management’s decision-making, considering both are “earning” over $1 million in salary, when guys like Gonzalez, Flaherty, and the since traded LeMahieu could have produced at least the same…if not more. The fact that all 3 were versatile enough to play SS in pinch while Baker and DeWitt cannot just about says it all in terms of value to a team.

        • gary3411

           I do also kind of wish we had saved some cash and gone with gonzalez and flaherty as our backups. At the same time though, you have to admit that neither has proven they can even hit AAA pitching yet (and you always say how it’s such a hitter’s league), and I’m not so sure I want to be giving spots on my major league roster to guys who havn’t even hit AAA pitching at even over a 700 ops clip yet when you have other proven options available. Unless they’re a Starlin Castro type talent of course that is a different story.

      • Tony_Hall

        Now Neil, why do you think there would be complaining on here?  

        Yes it will be a long season, and Spring Training is just the first interview, for both of these guys.  They both have to make it through the entire season (unless an unknown injury allows them to DL them) before they don’t get offered back. 

  • Anonymous47701

    I have been looking for pictures of the new Cubs Front Office and have come up empty. Can someone help me out?

    • Anonymous47701

      Not the Staff, but the Building that is allegedly the old bike valet warehouse.

  • Theboardrider

    So glad Lahair is looking like a big leaguer.  Also great to see Stewart and Mather being so consistent.  I’m really expecting a big year from Ian if he can manage his wrist pain.  Mather has been great and I hope he can keep it up.  Of the 3 Stewart probably is most likely because he’s proven before that when healthy he’s a quality hitter and player.  The deal for him is looking better and better.  Appears that Theo and company pushed the right buttons on that deal.  Much of the second guessing of our new management is looking to be off base of late.  After 4 months, I’m pretty impressed with the changes these guys have made.  The Midas Touch, maybe not quite, but these guys obviously know what they are doing.  The next few years are going to be so refreshing!  Samardizja too is a pleasant surprise.  “The Cubs Way,” is turning out to be really good for many of our veterans.  

    • Theboardrider

      It’ll be nice when soon patience pays off and Theo and Company make some great deals for Soriano, Byrd and maybe Soto.  At this point I’m seriously impressed and can’t wait to see more!