Samardzija! – Cubs 4, Nationals 3

Game Three – Cubs 4, Nationals 3
WP – Jeff Samardzija (1-0) LP – Jordan Zimmermann (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)

wflag.jpgAfter back-to-back demoralizing losses to begin the season, Dale Sveum needed a good outing from Jeff Samardzija … and what Sveum ended up getting was just short of a spectacular performance from Jeff Samardzija.

Jeff Samardzija dominated the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon. Samardzija allowed one run on three hits in eight innings and took a 4-1 lead into the ninth. If not for a throwing error by Starlin Castro with two outs in the ninth, Samardzija would have tossed a complete game gem. Samardzija ended up having to face one more batter and Adam LaRoche’s second two-run homer of the series made it 4-3 and chased Samardzija from the game.

Carlos Marmol issued a walk to Jayson Werth but got Xavier Nady to foul out to Ian Stewart for the 27th out … and Dale Sveum’s first win as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Sunday was all about Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija was brilliant throughout his first start of the season. Samardzija ended up allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits without a walk and eight strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. Samardzija faced only 31 batters and threw first pitch strikes to 25 of them. For the game, Samardzija tossed 110 pitches, 79 for strikes, to an aggressive Nationals’ offense.

The Cubs offense did just enough against Jordan Zimmermann early on and tacked on two runs in the eighth.

Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a 2-for-4 day at the plate that included a double, two runs scored, a RBI and two stolen bases. Castro has reached base safely in the last 43 games he’s played … and in the first three games, Castro has stolen four bases.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-2 with two RBI and a sac fly) drove in the Cubs’ first two runs of the game with a sac fly in the fourth and a single in the sixth. Soriano also made an excellent diving catch in the fourth that took away a hit from Adam LaRoche.

Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a RBI) added a RBI single in the eighth. Stewart made a tremendous diving stop and threw out Jayson Werth from his knees to take away an extra base hit from the Nationals’ right fielder in the seventh.

Bryan LaHair, in his first start of the season, was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

The aggressive Cubs’ offense managed only eight hits on Sunday and struggled with RISP (2-for-12 with six left on base) but they continued running and the aggressiveness on the bases led to their first run.

Not only did Dale Sveum pick up his first victory as the Cubs’ skipper but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were able to see the ‘W‘ flag fly for the first time at Wrigley Field as the head of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.

After a rough stretch on Sundays for the last several seasons, the Cubs won their first game on Sunday afternoon in 2012 …

The first inning on Easter Sunday started with Ian Desmond ripping a 1-2 pitch down the third base line and into the left field corner. Desmond ended up at second with a double. Jeff Samardzija then retired the next three batters he faced … Espinosa popped out to shallow left center, Zimmerman flied out to right center and LaRoche swung at and missed a 2-2 pitch. Samardzija threw 13 pitches in the first, nine for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Jordan Zimmermann in the first.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Nationals in order in the second … with two swinging strikeouts (Werth and Bernadina). Samardzija threw 26 pitches in first two innings, 19 for strikes.

Jordan Zimmermann made quick work of the Cubs in the second (five pitches) Zimmermann retired the first six Cubs on 14 pitches, 11 for strikes.

The Nationals did nothing against Samardzija in the third … after three Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 36, 27 for strikes, and he threw first pitch strikes to nine of the first 10 hitters.

After Marlon Byrd swung at and hit the first pitch from Zimmermann to first to begin the third (four outs on six pitches at that point for Zimmermann), Steve Clevenger worked the count to 2-1 and dumped a single into left center … the Cubs’ first hit. Samardzija dropped down a bunt, Clevenger advanced to second but David DeJesus lined out to second to end the inning.

The Nationals did nothing against Samardzija in the fourth … Samardzija retired Washington in order with a little help from a diving catch by Alfonso Soriano in left center that took away a hit from Adam LaRoche.

Samardzija threw 45 pitches over four innings, 33 for strikes.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the fourth … and they ran themselves into the first run of the game.

Darwin Barney ripped a 2-1 pitch back through the box. Zimmermann stopped the ball with his body and threw out Barney at first.

Starlin Castro extended both of his streaks to 14 and 43 respectively with a solid single to center. Castro took off for second on the first pitch to Soriano. Ramos misplayed the ball and Castro ended up at third on a passed ball. Alfonso Soriano lifted the next pitch into left, Castro tagged and scored … 1-0 Cubs. Stewart struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the third out of the inning.

The Nationals did nothing against Samardzija in the fifth. At that point Samardzija had retired 15 in a row and his pitch count stood at 53, 38 for strikes.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tack on in the bottom of the fifth.

Bryan LaHair ripped the first pitch he saw into right for a double. Marlon Byrd grounded out to second on the first pitch, LaHair ended up at third and Davey Johnson brought his infield in. Steve Clevenger lined the first pitch toward left center but Ian Desmond made a leaping catch and took away a hit from Clevenger. With LaHair still at third, Samardzija struck out swinging to end the inning.

Wilson Ramos led off the sixth with the Nationals’ second hit of the game. Ramos drove Samardzija’s first pitch into right and Zimmermann sacrificed him to second. Desmond ripped the first pitch into right. Ramos held at third with one out.

Danny Espinosa pulled a 1-2 pitch into deep right. Ramos tagged and scored … game tied at one. Samardzija struck out Ryan Zimmerman swinging on three pitches to end the sixth … 65 pitches for Samardzija after six, 49 for strikes.

The Cubs took the lead right back in the bottom of the sixth … and if not for a diving catch by Roger Bernadina it would have been more than a single run.

David DeJesus flied out to left to start the sixth. Darwin Barney pulled a 1-1 pitch into the left field corner for a double. Starlin Castro ripped a 0-1 pitch into left center. Roger Bernadina made an excellent head-long diving catch to take away at least a double from Castro … and a run from the Cubs. Barney read the play well and tagged from second and advanced to third.

With two down and Barney on third, Alfonso Soriano reached out and pulled a 1-2 pitch into left. Barney trotted home with the Cubs’ second run. Stewart struck out swinging on three pitches to end the sixth. Zimmermann threw only 61 pitches, 45 for strikes, in the first six innings.

With more help from his defense, Samardzija retired the Nationals in order in the seventh. Samardzija struck out LaRoche looking on a 3-2 pitch after being behind in the count 2-1, one of the few times Samardzija was behind in the count through the first seven innings. Ian Stewart robbed Jayson Werth of an extra basehit with a diving stop toward the line … Stewart threw out Werth from his knees.

Bryan LaHair put together a long, patient at bat that ended with a double to the right field corner (3-2 pitch). Marlon Byrd tried to bunt LaHair to third but popped up the 1-0 offering to Ramos in foul ground (Byrd made three outs, one productive, in his first three at bats on four pitches). Clevenger struck out swinging and Samardzija popped out to second (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija retired Washington in order in the eighth … and struck out Chad Tracy swinging to end the inning. After eight innings, Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 90, 65 for strikes.

Davey Johnson went to his pen in the eighth and brought in Ryan Mattheus. David DeJesus worked a walk to begin the inning. Darwin Barney flied out to a stumbling Xavier Nady on the second straight hit and run called by Dale Sveum. DeJesus made it back to first safely after he had rounded second.

Starlin Castro ripped a 0-1 pitch into left center. Castro split the gap and DeJesus scored from first with the Cubs’ third run. On a 2-0 pitch to Soriano, Castro took off for third. Ramos’ throw beat Castro to the bag but Zimmerman could not hold onto the ball. Castro swiped his second bag of the day … and fourth of the series.

The Nationals ended up issuing ball four to Soriano and Johnson went back to his pen for lefty Sean Burnett.

Ian Stewart stayed in and punched a 1-2 pitch into center. Castro scored and the Cubs took a 4-1 lead. Soriano held at third with one out. LaHair struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) and Byrd lined back to Burnett to end the inning.

The Cubs went to the ninth with a 4-1 lead.

Jeff Samardzija retired Ian Desmond on a routine grounder to second (2-2 pitch) to begin the ninth. Danny Espinosa struck out looking (2-2 pitch) and Ryan Zimmerman hit a grounder to short on a 0-2 pitch. Castro rushed his throw, threw low and LaHair could not scoop. What should have been the game ender and a complete game, extended the inning.

Sveum made the slow walk and talked to Samardzija and his infield after the error. Samardzija stayed in and tried to complete what he started.

Adam LaRoche launched a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right. Just like that the Cubs had a one-run lead (4-3) and Sveum went to his pen.

Carlos Marmol walked Jayson Werth on five pitches but was able to retire Xavier Nady on a foul out to Ian Stewart (1-2 pitch) to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a four-game series with the Brewers at Wrigley on Monday night … Chris Volstad against Shaun Marcum in the opener.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." – E.E. Cummings

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  • SuzyS

    It looks like it might finally be Shark’s time…and we’ve found a good starter.  Have to see what the season hold’s first…but the signs are good.
    Personally, a couple of years ago…I never thought Shark would see this day.
    Good to eat crow and take my hat off to him.

    • Aaron


      I was just about to say the same thing. Lost with Castro’s error opening the floodgates for LaRoche’s home run and Marmol’s cardiac arrest-inducing appearance yet again was the exceptional performance by Samardzija. I couldn’t be happier for the guy. He’s worked his ass off, and he deserved better than that…he deserved the complete game, which Castro destroyed with a routine play…but I digress.

      All of the Cubs teams won today, so that’s DEFINITELY a positive. Iowa looked almost guaranteed to lose, but they stormed back, and on the backs of two future cornerstones (Jackson and Rizzo). Tennessee looked like they were going to blow another one, and came back to win. So positives all around for the system.

      I still don’t believe in the offense of the big league club. My goodness does Byrd suck on offense, or what?!? At least for once in his Cubs career he actually moved a runner along purposely with that groundout to 2B with LaHair in scoring position…unfortunately he couldn’t lay down a bunt later in the game. 

      I am looking forward to Jackson and Rizzo working counts, taking walks, playing good defense, and collecting extra base hits in bunches.

      Again, my desire is to have this team by the end of this year:
      C-Castillo, Clevenger
      2B-Cardenas, Barney
      3B-Stewart, Lake
      CF-Jackson, Campana
      RF-DeJesus, Mather

      That lineup would give the Cubs ample versatility, and would allow them to make very good double switches later in games. It would add speed with Campana, Lake, Jackson, and even Cardenas….The 6 usual suspects don’t serve a purpose anymore on this team: Soriano, Byrd, Johnson, Baker, DeWitt, and Soto. In my opinion, they’re severely hindering the rebuilding process…but that’s just my opinion.

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree with the roster.  

        Any chance you see L Watkins being the 2B instead of Cardenas?

        And I can see Vitters in place of Lake if a 3B is going to be brought up this year.  Of course, I eventually see Lake in RF and not 3B, and am hopeful, that both can make it.

        • SuzyS

           Tony, Vitters has to put it together this season and break through to the mlb…or in my opinion…he becomes a career minor league non-factor.
          If he can’t fix his flaws…I see him going as part of a trade….Theo and Hoyer have no investment in him as a first round choice…in fact…because he was late to meetings early in ST…he might have already punched his ticket out of the Cubs organization.

          • Tony_Hall

            I really don’t see Vitters long term with the Cubs.  He is so opposite what the new regime looks for in a player.

          • Ripsnorter1

            What? You and I actually agree on something? Momma,  come check my temperature. I wonder if I am getting sick….

          • Tony_Hall

            You are just fine… 

          • cubtex

            And Stewart is?

          • Tony_Hall

            Stewart is a lot more of a patient hitter than Vitters seems to be.  

            Stewart has the potential to be the type of player they like, good glove, works the count decent power.  Whether he can put it all together is yet to be seen.

        • Aaron


          No, I do not see Watkins being brought up this year, unless injuries happen. I would see Valbuena and Cardenas as options before him.

          As for Vitters, no, I don’t see him coming up before Lake, even though both are on the 40-man. I think the ONLY way Vitters comes up this year is if Stewart has a solid year, is dealt at the deadline, AND Vitters has a great year. Even then, if Lake is having a solid year too, I believe it would be Lake instead of him, because they probably want Vitters at one level the whole year. It is also VERY important to keep in mind with Vitters is that he usually takes half a year to adjust to a new league…and while that might seem like a lot of time, at least he’s making adjustments, right?

          • cubtex

            What about if Stewart struggles again offensively. That is a very real possibilty imo.

          • Tony_Hall


          • Tony_Hall

            That is true on Vitters.  This site will never have the patience if he comes up to the majors, to let him get his feet wet.

      • Aaron

        Also, the fact that Samardzija was throwing 97-98 mph in the 9th inning….WOW….That was an impressive outing if I must say. So far, Dempster, Garza, and Samardzija are looking really good.

        But as I said a few years ago when the starters were doing well and the pen was also blowing goats, and the offense sucked ass as well….I said it’d come back to bite them big time, as the starters would eventually try to win it all by themselves, putting stress on their arms, as they tried to reach back for all they had to go late into games…..sure enough, it did catch up to them. I just hope the offense wakes up and Sveum realizes that Wood and Marmol are nothing more than middle relievers at this stage, and he should at least see what he has with Dolis and Lendy Castillo…the only other arms in the pen I’d try late in games (well…Castillo only because I haven’t seen him in an MLB game yet)

      • SuzyS

        I’m as impatient as you (or anyone else for that matter ) to see the young guys come up and take their places as the future bedrock of a winning Cubs team.
        But I also believe that Rizzo/Jackson et al are where they need to be…THIS MOMENT…let them work on their ko’s, swings and fundamentals away from the limelight and get a good head of steam going AWAY from the limelight….and then bring them up beginning in June.

        Soriano, I think we might be stuck with for awhile…just because of his contract…but even he serves a purpose…because I believe he is a good guy to have in the clubhouse…mentoring young players as they arrive in Chicago.

        Byrd will be gone whenever the Cubs can find a taker offering a decent return…(whatever that is right now?).

        I don’t think team Theo is in love with Baker/DeWitt/Johnson and Soto just now. They will fall to the wayside as better cream rises to the top.  Sooner…rather than later.

        Of all the times you’ve posted you’d like to see ” this n this n this happen”…It might really happen this time around…under JH…it never would.

        The cool thing is…right now…right now…we might be watching the worst Cubs team for the next 5 years.
        And I, for one, believe that.

        Think about that for a moment

        • Dorasaga

          Leaving talents where they can progress for the moment: Check!

      • Nathan

        Next year starts the rebuild, this is the year before the start of the rebuild!

  • Kojak Osborne Jr.

    The Shark made me so proud I was mad that Castro made that error and ended his complete game , hopefully he continue to pitch well he just need to avoid walking people. I am worried but our bullpen every time I see one of them warming up I get nightmares

  • paulcatanese

    Had to tape the game, not able to watch at that time.
    Very nice win. Aggresive on the bases, Soriono played a great game, offensively and defensively. Had to chuckle after one catch out there, instead of throwing it back to the infield he threw it to Byrd, kind of around the horn in the outfield.
    Samardzija pitched a great game, could have had the complete victory.
    Like it that Sveum left him in first time out to the mound, good move.
    Stewart, great play to his right and a good pick by LaHair. Still not used to the way the infield gives the corners,but thats not my call.
    First at bat for Castro, he did not swing at a strike, and I think the opposition sense’s that and will continue to make him try and chase
    Then he steals third in a situation that was not correct, could have been the difference, but it wasn’t, lucky. the throw beat him, but was never even caught.
    I do like that Garza was the head cheerleader in the dugout, especially when Soriono made that diving catch in left, Garza really got a kick out of that one,Garza is a good teamate.
    Good win, and they all are precious.

  • Redlarczykg

    Shark might be one fond memory of a good JH investment.
    Keith Moreland could use my wife’s help.  If you saw and heard Keith’s attempt to sing the 7th inning streach, my wife teaches voice lessons and que cards would be provided and she has lost 30 lbs at Weight Watchers!  Keith!  Lay off the Dogs and Fries!  You could really block the plate now and sunlight. 

  • Steve Rock-Vegas

    I’d like to point out a few things from todays game that probably will get lost on everyone.  First off, the defense, other then Castro’s brain cramp, was awesome today.  Soriano almost made me believe he was a major league OF today.  Stewart is a HUGE upgrade over ARam defensively and I believe with a bit of luck, possibly even offensively (since I still say 80% of ARams offense comes when the pressures off).  Baserunning was very agressive again and I believe over the course of the season will pay huge dividends in runs scored, i.e. manufactured, (see Barney joking with McKay about proper baserunning, beautiful!) And last, but not least, great coaching. Anyone notice Svuem talking to Stewert on the steps before his AB with the new pitcher warming up before he sat on the fastball and drove the pitch up the middle.  I’m not saying that’s whats totally responsible for the successful AB, but what a refreshing sight to see a young coach interacting and instructing a player in game vs. what Q-ball and Pinella did during games, which was mostly sit by themselves on the bench.  One win is just one win, but I’ll take it and swear this thing is headed in the right direction, I don’t care if they lose 90 games this year doing it. 
    That being said, I do have ONE negative to the game today.  They STILL don’t know how to work a pitcher.  3 pitches for 3 outs in unacceptable and must be corrected. If Rudy can’t change that then Rudy needs to go in my opinion.  He’s had plenty of time now to teach patience at the plate and hasn’t made any progress with the vets o this team with that.

    • John_CC


    • Dorasaga

       +2; can’t improve on a pro’s baseball IQ alone; the staff need to step up, as Sveum did on the stairs!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Cubs have Volstad vs. the Brewers Marcum on ESPN 3 tomorrow….that means its on the ‘net, Paul. ENJOY!

    • paulcatanese

      Thanks Rip, I will. The one regret I have is Campana not being here to bunt Aram, that I would have enjoyed.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I just hope Aram doesn’t take Volstad downtown…..

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    Solid game Jeff Samardzija.

    Really nice to see the team win on the first Sunday of 2012.

    Good stuff.

    Long live baseball!

  • brent carmona

    Marmol got really lucky on that last pitch for the final out. It was an absolutely awful looking slider that hung right down the middle of the plate.

    Im worried we will never see that devastating slider again, but at least he hit 96mph with his fastball in his last outing, so at least that is a positive

    • John_CC

       That slider was like 85mph or worse.  Just awful looking. Some of Hendry’s worst move were the non-moves. And not cashing in on Marmol after 2009 was huge.

      • Ripsnorter1

        In his best year, 2007, his slider was 81 MPH. He is throwing it at 83 mph now. It is not the speed that’s the problem…it’s the much smaller break. I don’t know why, either. You can bet Marmol knows why. Perhaps his arm is bothering him…..

        • John_CC

           I thought he used to have more speed on it. At any rate, it looked terrible today.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yes, I checked the PitchFX and got the stats. Speed is not the problem. 

            Everybody is saying that the slider just doesn’t break much anymore. I still say Larry Rothschild could straighten him out. At least that’s what I think. 

          • John_CC

             Rivera blew one already. That guy can’t keep it up forever, every season I think he is just going to stop being effective, it will happen. I wanted to trade Marmol over there last year, before he lost all respect…I hope it can still happen.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Rivera is the elite of the elite. But now he’s 42…… 

            DID YOU KNOW…..?He used to throw 94, but was just throwing 90-91 the night he got knocked out of the box. He threw only sinkers and cutters, ie, only the fastball.

          • Tony_Hall

            David Robertson will be the next closer for the Yankees.  His game is soooo much simpler and just as dominant as we remember Marmol.

        • Scapogro

          arm slot has something to do with the break as well.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I wonder what his curve looks like…..he doesn’t throw one now…..he’s a two pitch pitcher, but once he was considered a starter, and then he had four pitches……

    • Aaron

      Agreed…which is why I posted the bet that Nady would take him deep. His slider no longer has bite, and has fastball has ZERO movement, AND is erratic, and barely touches 94 mph at this point in time….

      I just have to believe that it’s due to over-use. How many games did we see Piniella and Quade abuse him? Didn’t he lead the league in appearances like 2 years in a row or something…same for Marshall?

      It’s so blatantly obvious that he doesn’t have what it takes to be closer, and yet it’s painful to watch as the Cubs’ brass continues to put faith in him.

      What are they seeing that we’re not? The walks? The straight fastballs at 92-93 mph on average that are well out of the strike zone? The flat sliders?….cuz that’s all he is at this point….a below average reliever.

      Brent, I never saw 96 mph…I saw 94 mph a few times, but never 96. 

      On a side note, I think there’s a VERY good chance that Maine and Cabrera (because they’re on the 40-man), Corpas, Rhoderick, and Batista get called up this year.

      If the Cubs find a mystery “injury” for Wood or Marmol later this year, it’ll likely be Maine and Cabrera replacing them. If they don’t, then it’s likely they’d try to pass Camp and Lopez through waivers, and add Rhoderick or Batista.

      • brent carmona


        It was only one pitch that was 96 and that cane from pat on the radio. I remember on MLB gameday pitch by pitch it registered 95.3 so yeah it was either the stadium guns or maybe pat got excited. Most fastballs were averaging 92-93 if I remember correctly, which actually is better than the 90-92 that we saw last year.

        Yes his slider is horrific. I’ll give you credit for calling the home run because I bet 90% of major league hitters would’ve taken that deep. I believe that was the fourth slider he threw in that Nady at bat which makes it even sadder.

  • cubtex

    I will get called negative again….But I really don’t care. Some early observations on Sveum for the first 3 games. Love the aggressive baserunning early in the games. He doesn’t sacrifice bunt. All that bunting in spring training was a waste of time. Stealing 3rd base in a close game could have cost him today and it cost him in game 1. And it looks like he is going to live and die with Marmol.

    • Carmelo

      Stealing 3rd, getting there with on 1 out is worth the risk in the right situation, and with the right baserunner.  Also, all the advance scouts take notice, so now the middle infielders are hanging near the bag to cut down our runners lead opening up more holes to hit through, besides the pitcher paying more attention to the runner than the hitter.  Alot of pluses with stealing 3rd.  Good for Sveum for coaching this way.

      • cubtex

        Not in a 3-1 game with your 4 and 5 hitters coming up in the 8th and with the Cubs bullpen. He is playing way too aggressive late in games. Early….fine. How about a sacrifice bunt for an insurance run every now and then?

        • Ripsnorter1

          You can score from 2nd on a single…forget the bunt and forget trying to steal 3rd. Other teams will get wise to this pretty quick and it will soon backfire against the Cubs. 

          • cubtex

            You misunderstood. Not wanting Soriano to bunt there. I am asking for Sveum to call for a sacrifice every now and then. He should have when he pinch hit LaHair after Barney led off with a single. LaHair swung at the first pitch and popped out….and today with Barney instead of hit and run. All that bunt practice in spring???? What was the point?

          • Carmelo

            How will it backfire?  If the ss/ start holding the runners close that will create more holes to hit thru.

          • cubtex

            Carmelo. The game was 3-1 in the 8th. Count was 2-0 on Soriano. The risk doesn’t outweigh the benefit. He was out if Zimmerman holds onto the ball and it could have cost them the game. It was a dumb play.

          • Carmelo

            He wasn’t out.  He stole 3rd—well worth the risk.

          • John_CC

            You keep referring to the big “if Zimmerman holds the ball” then the 2 run shot in the 9th ties the game. What about the “if Castro doesn’t steal third” maybe he doesn’t score on the grounder…or with Castro at second Soriano swings for the fence and the whole inning changes.

            The point everyone is making is that he stole 3rd, then scored and the Cubs won by one run. 

            If Wood and Marmol hadn’t imploded in the first two games the Cubs would be 3-0 right now. How do you like that “if”?  Probably not very much because it would just make it harder to continue to second guess, with hindsight even.

          • Carmelo

            Well said.

          • cubtex

            not smart

          • cubtex

            Did you see the game? Castro would have scored easily from 2nd on the base hit.

        • Carmelo

          You want to bunt the runner over with one out??????  Both Soriano in game 1 and castro today ran with one out, trying to get to 3rd to score on an out.  Not in a 3-1 game????  That’s the best time to be aggressive, when leading. With the Cub bullpen???  Even more reason to be agressive, we get another run to make it 4-1 then they need 5 runs to beat us.  Good for our manager. 

          • cubtex

            No. I would have preferred Barney to bunt DeJesus over in the 8th with no outs in the inning. Instead he hit and ran and Barney flew out. Still man on first but now 1 out. You are in a close game. Play for 1 run there…..not a big inning. They have the lead!

          • Carmelo

            Getting 2 runs in the 8th today instead of 1 run was difference in the game. Hate to give up an out when leading—stay aggressive. 

          • cubtex

            The aggressiveness didn’t help them there. They got the 2 runs in spite of those plays. Hit and run fails. If he sac bunts DeJesus at 2nd with one out instead of 1st with one out. Castro bails them out ripping a double in gap. Castro steals 3rd. Throw beats him and Zimmerman bails them out again dropping ball. Stewart base hit and Castro could have easily scored from 2nd anyway. So in fact……they scored IN SPITE of the plays.

          • John_CC

            That’s what I was thinking. 3-1 seems like a good time to be aggressive.  We’ll find out soon what tex’s infinite wisdom and superior baseball knowledge tells us is the best scenario for stealing third.

          • cubtex

            You will learn something if you keep reading :) I laid out in play by play how the scored those 2 runs IN SPITE of being aggressive. The hit and run failed and the stolen base attempt should have failed because the ball beat him.

        • John_CC

          When then? In a tie game or 1 run game? Or with a 4 run lead when it looks like you’re trying to run up the score?  And I’m sure you haven’t forgotten who the 4 and 5 hitters are, neither of whom you are a big fan of.  Fact, this offense needs to be aggressive on the bases and manufacture runs when they can.

          • cubtex

            Read above John. There is a time and place for it and that was not one of them.

    • Nathan

      The reason people get mad about you’re continuous negative comments is because they are just that…continuous, long in the sleeve, its not worth your typing all the time

      • cubtex

        Don’t care

    • John_CC

       Thanks for sharing your opinion, AGAIN.

      • cubtex

        More to come. Pay attention. You might learn something.

        • Ryjo723

          Probably not

    • paulcatanese

      I agree, the aggressive style of baserunning is fine if its the right time and the right place. It could have cost them the game. As I posted earlier the throw beat Castro, but Zimmerman never caught the ball.
      I just knew the bunting game was for fun in spring training, but knew when the season started it was out the window.
      To prove a point, look at the attempt that Byrd made today, pitiful. They really have no one that can bunt on a steady basis.
      I did like Sveums move in letting the Shark stay in, and as we know he should have had a complete game.
      When Marmol was called in I really thought they were going to blow it again. The pitch to Nady was flat and down the middle and could have been hit a long way. He just missed it.

      • SuzyS

         Paul, it was Nady.

        • paulcatanese

          Golly, didn’t I say Nady?It was the third out and he hit it foul down the third base line and Stewart caught for the third out. what I meant by he just missed it was a little more of the bat on the ball and it was gone. He just missed the sweet spot. Sorry if I didn’t word it right.

          • SuzyS

             Paul…you worded it right…my insinuation that Nady is no longer that good…Marmol was lucky.

          • paulcatanese

            Gottcha, true Nady is probably over the hill. But he can still hit the long ball once in a while.

      • cubtex

        Some people don’t want to say anything against a proper baseball move on this site because of blind Cubbie faith. I pointed out that today as well. No need for Castro to run there at all! He gets thrown out and it is 3-1 gooing in 9th and the Nats just tied up game. Also….instead of hitting and running with DeJesus on 1st with no out when the game was 2-1… How about a sac bunt. Play for 1 run there….not a big inning. They got away with it because Castro ripped one in the gap….but you needed an extra base to score that run inatead of a single. I love the aggressive baserunning early and at proper time….but that was not a smart.

        • Tony_Hall

          What if he steals 3rd and then Soriano sac flies him home?   What if?  What if?  What if?

          That would have made it a great play then.  

          • cubtex

            OK…Let’s do a litlle pop quiz and take the Cubs out of the equation here.

            Question 1. A team is up by 1 run in the 8th. The leadoff man gets on first base. Do you….

            A. Do nothing and let the batter swing away
            B. Sacrifice Bunt the runner to 2nd
            C. Hit and Run

            Question 2.
            You have a 2 run lead in the 8th with your #3 hitter on 2nd and 1 out. Do you…..

            A. Keep him there and let your #4 and #5 hitters try and do what they are there for and drive in the run.

            B. Bunt your #4 hitter(joke)

            C. Have the runner try and steal 3rd?

          • paulcatanese

            Ok, I’ll take the quiz.
            Question 1.
            C.(last option)

            Question 2.

            End of quiz.

          • cubtex


          • cubtex

            The thing is in a one run game…too many bad things can happen in a hit and run. Batter swings and misses and runner is thrown out. Batter hits a line drive and runner is doubled up. It is so much easier to just lay down a bunt. Isn’t that what was stressed in Spring Training?

          • paulcatanese

            Absolutly, just wanted to throw an option to those who dont know how to bunt, or have used them all up for the season in ST.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry, not enough info to choose.  Things like who is available in your bullpen to pitch, and how are they throwing lately.  Sometimes you will play situations to try and manufacture 1 more run, where sometimes you will play to try to blow it open.  

            I wish this game was as easy as A,B,C.

          • cubtex

            If you believe that any of those factors matter…..I guess I understand why you say some of the things you do. No worries. Have a good night.

          • Tony_Hall

            Get over yourself, please!

            What if I have a dominant set-up guy and closer?  Then I know 1 more run might be more than enough and play for 1 run.  What if my bullpen sucks, and I need to play for the big inning.  There are more than just your A, B, C, cookie cutter answers as well.  If you think that is all the info needed than I get your views as well.

    • Tony_Hall


      After 3 games, you can declare that he doesn’t sacrifice bunt.  

      How do you know that the situations, he likes to sacrifice bunt, just haven’t happened?


  • Steven Tamara Petty

    What about bringing up a pitcher from AAA and putting Shark in as the closer of this team?  Thoughts?

    • brent carmona

      No way Steven,

      Starting pitchers are much more valuable, must see what Jeff spellcheck can do in a full season.

      Also need to increase marmol’s trade value as a closer so we can deal him in the near future.

      If we lose more games with marmol so be it, we are not an elite team by any means so the more losses the better the draft pick.

      • paulcatanese

        Brent, I have to ask you, how do you rationalize the more losse’s the better the draft pick?
        If that thought process was really in the mind of the Cubs front office I would lose all faith in the game.
        Losing games because the team is not great is one thing, but deliberately tossing a pitcher out there because he has a good chance of blowing the game and being higher in the draft is just plain wrong.

        • paulcatanese

          P.S. The primary reason for a baseball franchise is to put the best available players on the field to win, period.

          • brent carmona

            Thanks for catching my words Paul, I was over the top there.

            Maybe what I meant was, marmol is not a major league closer right now with his stuff, and if he is continued to be put out there in that role, it will give the cubs more losses and a better draft pick. Which is actually not a terrible thing to live with given the stricter rules on spending in upcoming draft.

          • paulcatanese

            Oh yeah Brent, they keep putting him out there with the same results, shame on them.
            You are correct more losses, better draft pick, but I hope they don’t do that. Use him in middle relief,,,,If they have to.
            But get the best out there that they can, and if they lose then, well they gave it the best shot.

    • Tony_Hall

      Not a chance!  If he fails as a starter, then yes.  But if his ceiling was as a #4 or #5,  you may do it, but he has the potential to be a #3 or even a #2 starter.

      • John_CC

         I would have scoffed at that notion…Samardzija a #2. But man he was solid today. And throwing good heat in the 9th. He was fired up to finish that game. That’s a live fastball in the upper 90s.  Great control today, now he’s building confidence with every start since the spring.  And finally, these Nat’s aren’t a bunch of pushovers, this team is being picked to compete for the division.

        • paulcatanese

          John, one little word by Brenly on the air today. The Shark was the first pitcher in a long time to go past 8 innings since—– Mark Prior,
          that sent a shiver in me. I think he’s alright with today, but he has never gone beyond the sixth inning in his starts. Glad he did and he did a great job.

          • John_CC

             I heard that Paul. Specifically, it would have been the first complete game in April since Prior…the worst part…in 2003!

          • Tony_Hall

            The ghosts of Christmas past…we shall live in the future.

        • Tony_Hall

          Same here.  But he does have all that you want in a good SP, just never looked un-hitable before for more than an inning here or there.  

          He looked un-hitable today (except for new Cub killer Adam Laroche)

  • RynoTiger

    I see the Giants have started 0-3 and are clearly out of it already…so how about Soto and Marmol to the Giants for Brian Wilson?…

    • Josh

       Finally some answers to questions per baseball america :

      Released: RHP Hector Mayora, RHP Ramon
      Reyes, RHP Juan Serrano, LHP Cam Greathouse, C Jason Jaramillo, C Nathan
      Maldonado, 2B Bobby Scales, 3B Marquez Smith, SS Matt Camp, OF Abner

      Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Justin Berg, RHP
      David Cales, RHP Marcus Hatley, RHP Robert Whitenack, LHP Gerardo
      Concepcion, LHP Graham Hicks, LHP Zach Rosscup, C Micah Gibbs, 2B Pierre
      LePage, 3B Dustin Geiger, SS Junior Lake, OF Evan Crawford, OF Matt
      SpencerI’ve been wondering about Greathouse and Serrano. I had read posts elsewhere that Smith was released and I’m not surprised about Abreu. Also wondering about a bunch of those guys on the DL. Hope none of their injuries are serious.

      • Josh

         Sorry bout the spacing.

      • Neil

        Josh, thanks for posting. The trans wire is in the Down on the Farm report that will post in about an hour. As for Lake, it is a back issue and he is expected to return soon. Concepcion is more about his long layoff and not an injury. From the way I understand it, the Cubs would like for him to build up arm strength before they let him pitch in games.

        Greathouse was released sometime back.

      • letitsnowaz

        Where did you get that Maldonado was released?

        • letitsnowaz

          last time I checked he wasn’t.

  • Aaron


    You probably already know this, but I think it’s worth mentioning RE: Marmol and his problems

    Sliders: put a lot of stress on the elbow. I wouldn’t be shocked if he has TJ at some point this year…there’s been an awful lot of stress on his elbow over the years, and it’s probably finally caught up to him. In order to get more bite on your slider (in other words, vertical-downward vs horizontal movement), you have to “stay on top” when you break the wrist. But when that happens, you technically stay in the over-the-top throwing motion, which…

    Curveballs: put a lot of stress on the shoulder when you complete the extension (note: it also can put stress on the elbow too, but the extension with a curveball is when the stress on the shoulder occurs). This is why Kerry Wood no longer throws his wicked 12-6 breaking ball with great frequency, and has opted for the slider and cut fastball.

    I’ve watched old tape of Marmol vs recent tape, and discovered that despite coming at hitters with both arms flailing, looking like he was almost throwing side-arm at times (that was an actually an illusion if you play tape in slow-motion), he was throwing over-the-top, and getting tremendous vertical-downward AND horizontal movement. In other words, his slider technically mimicked a traditional “sweeper”, also sometimes called a “slurve”, depending on who you talk to.

    That was then….but if you look at Marmol now, it appears that his whole arm angle is jacked up. When he throws his slider NOW, you’ll notice that he’s trying to get the “slurve” effect, and he drops his arm angle. Simple physics would tell you that the downward angle of the ball becomes much harder to achieve from that point.

    Neil took great video in his heyday during Spring Training 2008:

    Here’s another great view of him getting on top of the slider circa 2007:

    Now compare circa 2011 (again, compliments of Neil):

    The difference is very subtle, so you have to pay attention, but if you look at the 2008 and 2011 side by side on your computer, you can see the difference.

    I believe they know this, but they might know something is wrong with his arm. I know I changed my arm angle when my shoulder was hurting, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if something was wrong.

    In fact, I’m pretty good at picking things out. I remember seeing Jon Garland at Spring Training a few years ago with Neil, and I commented (don’t know if you remember or not Neil), but I said that something didn’t look right with his arm, and he looked like he was injured. Sure enough, he came down with a shoulder injury later that year.

    Pitchers compensate for EVERYTHING. If they’re experiencing “tired arm”, which is nothing more than overuse resulting in fatigue and drop in velocity, they often compensate with change-ups and breaking pitches. When they’re elbow is hurting, they’ll try to overload on the shoulder. When the shoulder is hurting, they try to create more zip on the ball by buggy-whipping the elbow. When a pitcher is getting fatigued in a game, he’ll often-times reach back for something extra, thus flaring up his lead shoulder, resulting in pitches up in the zone typically with less velocity that are usually pounded. (sometimes when they’re fatigued, they’ll bounce balls in the dirt, because they’re trying to buggy-whip with their elbow, but their upper arm is too tired to create the necessary power to get the ball over the plate). When a pitcher is experiencing leg problems (hamstring, calf, etc.), usually they end up with an oblique or shoulder injury from overcompensating.

    My whole point is there has to be a reason for Marmol’s arm angle. Also, the fact that his fastball has such a wide range from 90 mph to 96 mph (which someone said on here), and I saw him as low as 87-88 mph with his fastball in Spring Training….usually that’s a dead giveaway that something is wrong, especially for relievers who are used to going max effort for 1 inning. With starters, that is far more common to see that wide range in fastballs.

    Anyway, hopefully I’ve made sense. If any of you have a DVR box and taped the game today, please try the slow motion button with Marmol, then look at the youtube videos I posted…’s very easy to see the difference.

    • paulcatanese

      Thanks Aaron I have it taped and will look at it.I remember you had a similar problem with the arm and if anyone is an authority on that it would be you.

      • Aaron

         Look how he drops his shoulder a bit, instead of bringing it up, and staying on top of the ball. When pitchers drop their shoulders like that, usually that means there’s some type of impingement on the shoulder….of course, I could be wrong, as I have before, but it would seem to explain the slider being flat, the velocity dipping, and the “suck factor” rising

        • paulcatanese

          Correct Aaron, when shoulder problems arise
          clearly it creates the tendacy to throw more and more sidearm, less pain, but still the problem, the ball does flatten out.
          I think both you and I know the feeling when the shoulder(rotater) starts to go.
          Good analysis Aaron. I said it earlier, I think Marmol is toast, unless a miracle comes around.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Hey, thanks so much. Very nice post.

      Yes, something is wrong….Sveum has run him out there 3 games in a row. He might get in 162 appearances this year…..

      • Aaron

         Here is how I know he’s been overused:
        2007-5-1, 1.43 ERA, 59 games, 69 1/3 IP, 41 hits, 35 walks, 96 K’s, 1.096 WHIP

        2008-2-4, 2.68 ERA, 82 games, 87 1/3 IP, 40 hits, 41 walks, 114 K’s, 0.927 WHIP

        2009-2-4, 3.41 ERA, 79 games, 74 IP, 43 hits, 65 walks, 93 K’s, 1.459 WHIP (*first season as part-time closer)

        2010-2-3, 2.55 ERA, 77 games, 77 2/3 IP, 40 hits, 52 walks, 138 K’s, 1.185 WHIP

        2011-2-6, 4.01 ERA, 75 games, 74 IP, 54 hits, 48 walks, 99 K’s, 1.378 WHIP

        2012-0-1, 20.25 ERA, 3 games, 1 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 0 K’s, 5.250 WHIP

        *Spring Training stats:
        1-1, 7.56 ERA, 9 games, 8 1/3 IP, 8 hits, 6 walks, 8 K’s

        In other words….he’s in for a very bad season of epic proportions…I’m thinking in the 7-8 ERA range actually.

        I won’t list out the stats, but he’s very similar to Brad Lidge. Both use their slider as their “out” pitch. Both at one time threw mid-to-high 90’s. Both had exceptionally high K totals. Both had 3 seasons of high mileage on their arm before the wheels came off (talking 70+appearances).

        Lidge had an injury in the season after the wheels came off, but got back to respectability with a 3.36 ERA in 66 games. Then, he had a major comeback year the following season after his trade with a 1.95 ERA in 72 games. But that was short-lived, as the wheels came completely off the following year to the tune of a 7.21 ERA….and injury-shortened seasons ensued.

        I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that Marmol has a resurgent season like Lidge had, even though their ages were even similar with successes/struggles…The reason I believe that is Marmol’s arm has a LOT more mileage on it than meets the eye.

        In order to get his high K totals, Marmol often times would go 2-2, or even 3-2, which means he was throwing 5-6 pitches an AB. If you add in the high walk totals, it becomes even worse. Let’s hypothetically say that he walks 2 guys….that equals 8-12 pitches. Then, he strikes out the side. (he almost never had 3 straight strikes on guys, just FYI, but I’ll use 1-2 as an example). So, he’s already got about 10 pitches (mid-point) with the walks. Then, he has 12-18 pitches with the K’s, which leaves him with 24 pitches for that outing. If you have 80 appearances with 20+pitches per outing (which even Bosio and Sveum mentioned this Spring Training as a cause for concern with Wood and Marmol), then you’re throwing 1600-1900+pitches per year.

        If you’re a starting pitcher, you’re throwing about 3000 pitches per year and roughly 180-200 IP. That equals roughly 15-17 pitches per inning.

        It’s insane to do that to your arm. And quite frankly, if you add up all of the appearances and pitches thrown, it might actually be more beneficial that Wood and Marmol (as I suggested last year with Marmol) were starters than relievers, because their walk totals spread out over the course of 6 IP on average wouldn’t hurt nearly as bad as the ones during 1 IP late in games.