Game One Hundred Thirty-Nine: Cubs (52-86) vs. Pirates (72-65)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/914
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Jeff Samardzija (8-13, 3.91/1.26) vs. James McDonald (12-7, 3.90/1.21)
The Cubs will try to make it back-to-back wins over the Pirates tonight behind Jeff Samardzija. The last time the Cubs won consecutive games on the road was July 23 and July 24 in Pittsburgh. The Cubs are just 4-20 outside of Wrigley Field since the break and three of those wins have come at PNC Park.
Jeff Samardzija will make his final start of the season tonight. The Cubs announced Friday that they will shut Samardzija down for the remainder of the year due to the amount of innings he has accumulated during his first full year as a starter at the big league level.
Jeff Samardzija has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter and could prove to be a big part of the organization moving forward. The upper levels of the Cubs’ system is void of impact pitching prospects but Samardzija, along with Matt Garza and a healthy Arodys Vizcaino, could be a solid top three going into next season. Samardzija has clearly been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs in an otherwise dismal year at the big league level.
The Cubs announced Friday that recently acquired Jason Berken will take Samardzija’s spot in the rotation … at least for now.
Brett Jackson will miss tonight’s game after bruising his right knee during his collision with the wall in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game. Jackson turned in the catch of the year for the Cubs and it will likely cost him a couple of games.
In other news … Darwin Barney ran his errorless games streak to 123 games on Friday night and tied Ryne Sandberg for the franchise record for consecutive games played by a second baseman without an error. Darwin Barney would own the record with one more mistake free ballgame.
For the last time this season, tonight all starts with Jeff Samardzija …
Samardzija has not posted a win since August 13 and has only two victories in his last 10 starts despite notching seven quality starts in his last 10 outings. Samardzija has completed at least seven innings in six of those 10 starts while allowing two or fewer earned runs in eight of his last 10 games.
Since August 13 (five starts), Samardzija has struck out 41 batters while walking only six in 33 innings.
After posting a 6-8 record in his first 17 starts with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, Samardzija is 2-5 in his last 10 starts with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP (71 strikeouts and 18 walks in 64 1/3 innings)
Tonight will be Samardzija’s second start of the season against the Bucs. Samardzija shut down the Pirates back on July 23 at PNC Park. Samardzija allowed one hit over eight shutout innings while walking one and striking out five. For his career, Samardzija is 2-0 in 12 games, one start, against the Pirates with a 0.82 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija
- Pedro Alvarez – 0-for-3
- Rod Barajas – 0-for-3
- Clint Barmes – 0-for-4
- Josh Harrison – 0-for-1
- Garrett Jones – 1-for-5 with a double
- Andrew McCutchen – 3-for-7 with two walks
- Michael McKenry – 0-for-3
- Alex Presley – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Gaby Sanchez – 1-for-6
- Jose Tabata – 1-for-2
- Neil Walker – 1-for-7 with a home run and two walks
After a very good first half, James McDonald has been very inconsistent in the second half and is coming off one of his worst starts of the season. McDonald allowed eight runs, seven earned, on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings to the Brewers. Milwaukee hit four home runs off McDonald in his shortest outing of the year.
McDonald has been very good in his home park this year (6-2 in 13 starts with a 2.60 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP). In order for the Pirates to stay in the mix for one of the two Wild Cards, McDonald will have to finish the season the way he started it.
James McDonald is 3-4 in his last 10 starts with a 7.14 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP and will make his second start of the year against the Cubs.
Dale Sveum’s team scored five runs on five hits in six innings against McDonald back on July 24 at PNC Park. McDonald walked three and struck out six while serving up home runs to Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano.
James McDonald is 0-2 in five career games, four starts, against the Cubs with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against James McDonald
- Darwin Barney – 3-for-10 with a walk
- Tony Campana – 0-for-1
- Starlin Castro – 3-for-12 with a home run
- David DeJesus – 1-for-3 with a double
- Bryan LaHair – 0-for-3
- Joe Mather – 0-for-2
- Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3
- Dave Sappelt – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-7 with a home run and a walk
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-2 with a walk
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