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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