Game Fifty-Nine – Cubs 3, Twins 11
WP – Scott Diamond (5-1) LP – Jeff Samardzija (5-4) Save – None
The Cubs lost Saturday for the 20th time in 24 games (15 of 16 on the road) after Jeff Samardzija was lifted with two outs in the fourth inning. For the second start in a row Samardzija had no command of his splitter and the Twins teed off on Samardzija’s fastball.
Entering Saturday’s start, Samardzija had allowed 13 earned runs in his last 51 2/3 innings. Jeff Samardzija allowed a season-high eight runs on nine hits with a walk, two wild pitches and a strikeout in 3 2/3 innings. Samardzija threw 78 pitches, 52 strikes, in what ended up tying his shortest outing of the year (3 2/3 innings on April 19). Samardzija looked uncomfortable on the mound and appeared to struggle with his release point.
The Twins torched Cubs’ pitching for the second time in two days. After scoring eight runs on 16 hits Friday night, Minnesota scored 11 runs on 16 hits Saturday afternoon … of the 11 runs, only run scored via a home run.
Casey Coleman could not stop the bleeding and allowed an ugly loss to become an embarrassment. Coleman allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings. Jairo Asencio bailed Coleman out of his bases loaded jam in the sixth and pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. Manny Corpas gave up a single in a scoreless eighth inning.
Scott Diamond kept the Cubs off the board during his six innings of work. The Cubs had plenty of opportunities early against Diamond before the game became a blowout. The Cubs were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left three on base in the first three innings. After the Twins put six on the board against Samardzija in the fourth, Diamond pounded the strike zone and took advantage of the Cubs’ overly aggressive offense.
The Cubs three runs came in the seventh and eighth off former Cubs’ reliever, Jeff Gray. Reed Johnson (2-for-5 with a double and a RBI) broke up the shutout with a fielder’s choice RBI ground out that plated Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a run scored) in the seventh.
Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit another majestic homer, his third of the series. Soriano launched a two-run shot off Gray in the eighth. The ball ended up in the second deck beyond the left field wall and Soriano provided the Cubs only highlight of the afternoon.
Starlin Castro (0-for-3) received his first break of the season Saturday afternoon. Castro had played every inning of all 58 games and was lifted for a pinch-hitter (Adrian Cardenas) in the seventh inning.
The Cubs’ offense did not walk a single time on Saturday and have managed only one free pass in the series (18 innings).
With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs are 19-40 on the season … Reed Johnson led off the game with a double to the right field corner. Starlin Castro did not do his job and hit a chopper toward third on the first pitch. Johnson held at second. David DeJesus tried to bunt his way on but the ball went foul. DeJesus smacked a 0-2 pitch from Scott Diamond to second. Johnson ended up at third with two outs.
Alfonso Soriano drove a 2-2 pitch to the track in right to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija retired the Twins in order on 14 pitches (nine strikes) in the first.
The Cubs did nothing in the second … Diamond threw only 22 pitches in two innings, 15 for strikes.
Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau reached on back-to-back singles to left to start the second. Samardzija jumped ahead of Ryan Doumit 0-2 before the former Pirate worked the count full. Doumit popped out to left for the first out. Samardzija’s first pitch to Trevor Plouffe was in the left handed batter’s box and Clevenger could not get a glove on the ball. Willingham and Morneau advanced ninety feet on Samardzija’s wild pitch.
Samardzija’s wild pitch cost him a run (and later a second one). Plouffe hit a routine grounder toward third. Ian Stewart fielded the ball and threw to first for the out. Willingham broke on contact and scored the game’s first run … without the wild pitch, the grounder would have gotten Samardzija out of the inning. Morneau held at second.
Brian Dozier fisted a very good 0-1 pitch from Samardzija (in on his hands) over Barney and into right center. Morneau scored, 2-0 Twins. Dozier broke for second on the first pitch to Jamey Carroll. Steve Clevenger made a good throw to Castro and Dozier was called out to end the inning.
After two, the Cubs trailed 2-0.
Darwin Barney led off the third with a single to left. After Ian Stewart predictably struck out swinging, Reed Johnson ripped a 2-1 pitch back up the middle and into center. Starlin Castro showed a little more patience in his second at bat but swung over the top of a slider on a 2-2 pitch for the second out … and David DeJesus looked at a 0-2 pitch to end the inning. The Cubs left three on base in the first three innings of Saturday’s game (0-for-5 with runners in scoring position).
The Twins went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third … 43 pitches for Samardzija after three (29 strikes).
Other than a broken-bat, one-out bloop single off the bat of Jeff Baker, the Cubs did nothing against Scott Diamond (55 pitches, 39 for strikes) in the fourth.
The Twins put the game away in the fourth inning and chased Jeff Samardzija from the game before he could finish the inning.
Joe Mauer led off the fourth with a single to left. Josh Willingham flied out to center. The at bat that changed the inning belonged to Justin Morneau. Samardzija jumped ahead of Morneau (1-2) before the Twins’ slugger worked the count back to full. Morneau blooped a single into center with Mauer running and the Twins had runners on first and third with one out.
Ryan Doumit pulled a 0-1 pitch down the first baseline. The ball hit off Baker’s glove and ended up down the line. Mauer scored (3-0 Twins) and Morneau stopped at third on Doumit’s double. With the infield in, runners on second and third with one out, Trevor Plouffe crushed a 1-1 pitch to center. Joe Mather could not catch up to the ball. It hit the track and hopped over the centerfield wall. The Twins took a 5-0 lead on Plouffe’s ground rule double. Dozier grounded out to short. Plouffe held at second with two outs.
Samardzija lost his command at that point. Not only did he walk Jamey Carroll but his 3-2 pitch got past Clevenger and allowed Plouffe to end up at third. Denard Span pulled Samardzija’s first pitch into right for a double, Plouffe scored and the Twins took a 6-0 lead. Ben Revere tapped Samardzija’s last pitch just past the mound. Barney could not field the ball quick enough to throw out the speedy Revere at first. Carroll scored the Twins seventh run and Dale Sveum made the slow walk to the mound.
Casey Coleman took over with runners on first and third with two outs and the Cubs down 7-0. Joe Mauer greeted Coleman by launching a double off the wall in left. Span scored easily, 8-0. Coleman finally ended the inning by striking out Josh Willingham swinging (1-2 pitch).
Ian Stewart singled to center with one out in the fifth. Reed Johnson hit a tapper between the mound and first base. Diamond fielded the ball and recorded the out at first as Stewart advanced to second. Castro grounded out to third to end the inning.
Casey Coleman walked Justin Morneau (3-1 pitch) to start the fifth. Ryan Doumit hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Trevor Plouffe continued tormenting Cubs’ pitching. Plouffe hurt a 0-1 pitch from Coleman. The ball ended up in the Cubs’ pen beyond the left centerfield wall and the Twins made it 9-0. Dozier grounded out to second to end the inning.
After Scott Diamond struck out David DeJesus swinging to start the sixth, Alfonso Soriano singled to center. Jeff Baker flied out to right. Joe Mather kept the inning going with a single but Clevenger lined out to short to end the inning. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base through six innings.
Denard Span singled to left with one out in the sixth. Coleman continued pitching from behind and gave up a single to right to Revere on a 3-1 offering. With runners on first and third with one down, Joe Mauer ripped a 2-2 pitch into right. Span scored and the Vikings took a 10-0 lead over the Bears.
Josh Willingham made it 11-0 with a single to center. Revere scored and Coleman walked Justin Morneau to load the bases with one out. Dale Sveum made his way to the mound and brought in Jairo Asencio. Asencio retired Doumit on a fly out to shallow center and Plouffe grounded out to second to end the inning.
Former Cub Jeff Gray took over for Scott Diamond in the seventh. Darwin Barney singled to left to start the inning then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Stewart tapped a 3-2 pitch back to the mound. Barney advanced to third with one out. Reed Johnson grounded out to third; Barney scored and broke-up the shutout. Adrian Cardenas hit for Starlin Castro and grounded out to second for the third out.
Jairo Asencio pitched the seventh and other than issuing a one-out walk to Jamey Carroll he was sharp and kept the Twins off the board.
Jeff Gray gave up a single to Koyie Hill to start the eighth … and Alfonso Soriano made him pay. Soriano crushed a 1-1 pitch, the ball ended up in the second deck for his third homer in two games. Baker, Mather and Clevenger went down in order to end the eighth.
Manny Corpas pitched the eighth and other than a one-out single by Darin Mastroianni, the Twins went down quickly and took the 11-3 lead into the ninth.
Ian Stewart reached on a one-out single off Jeff Manship in the ninth. Reed Johnson hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice and Adrian Cardenas grounded out to second to end the game.
Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Francisco Liriano in Sunday’s finale.
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