Samardzija Shaky on the Mound, Excellent at the Plate – Cubs 7, Mariners 4

Spring Training Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs (ss) 7, Mariners 4

WP – James Russell (1-0) LP – Erasmo Ramirez (2-1, BS 1) Save – Kyuji Fujikawa (1)

wflag-pubAfter dropping game one to the Dodgers, the Cubs finished a long day of baseball with a victory over the Mariners in Peoria. The Cubs finished with a 5-5 record in the five split squad days this spring.

Jeff Samardzija made his next to last start in the Cactus League. With only 10 full days before Opening Day in Pittsburgh, Samardzija figures to make one more start this spring, either on Tuesday or Wednesday. Samardzija was shaky at best on the mound and not as sharp as his last outing in Las Vegas. Samardzija did not find a rhythm and struggled with his command. Samardzija lived up in the strike zone, but did strikeout the side in the fifth and ended up with seven strikeouts on the night. The big positive for Samardzija on the hill, he did not issue a single free pass over his six innings of work.

Pat Hughes reported during the game that he spoke with Chris Bosio and Jeff Samardzija is experimenting with a change-up this spring.

Jeff Samardzija allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits with no walks and seven strikeouts … and threw 93 pitches over six innings, 60 for strikes.

Samardzija nearly accounted for all of the runs he allowed on the mound at the plate. Samardzija went 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBI and a sac bunt. Samardzija’s second homer of the spring, a solo shot over the wall in right center off Jon Garland, tied the game at one in the third. Samardzija then singled in the Cubs’ third run in the sixth inning.

James Russell was lights out in the seventh, and picked up the spring win.

Carlos Marmol pitched the eighth and worked around a leadoff walk. Kyuji Fujikawa, and not Marmol, pitched the ninth. Fujikawa gave up a couple of singles but retired the last two batters to close out the game.

The Cubs offense had big night. The Cubs hit three more home runs which accounted for four of their seven runs. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a home run) launched his fourth dinger of the spring in the fourth. Brad Nelson (2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored) hit a two-run homer in the eighth that ended up being the game winner. David DeJesus (2-for-3 with a double) stayed hot at the plate while Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a run scored) was on board for Nelson’s homer in the eighth. Darnell McDonald (1-for-1 with a RBI, a run scored and a walk) singled in the tying run in the seventh and scored the Cubs’ seventh and final run in the ninth.

The Cubs scored seven runs on 12 hits, six for extra bases, with two walks and five strikeouts … 4-for-12 with RISP, six left on base.

The Cubs more than got their work in on Thursday, and there were several positives to come out of both games … now it is just single games for the remainder of Spring Training.

Jeff Samardzija was sharp in the first inning. He surrendered a one-out single to Robert Andino but Dioner Navarro picked him off first base with Justin Smoak at the plate to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Jon Garland in the second. Samardzija struck out Smoak to start the second inning. Jesus Montero lashed a double into right and advanced to third on a passed ball with Jason Bay at the plate. Bay, who has always hit Cubs’ pitching, ripped a 2-0 pitch into left center that plated Montero with the first run of the game. Casper Wells drove a 0-1 pitch into center.

With runners on first and second with one out, Brad Nelson made an excellent play in the hole at second to take away a hit from Dustin Ackley. Nelson picked the chopper, threw to second to force Wells but Baez’s throw to first was just a little late. Samardzija retired Brendan Ryan on a grounder to second for the third out.

Jeff Samardzija tied the game at one in the third with his second homer of the spring. Samardzija drove Garland’s pitch over the wall in right center. DeJesus followed with a single to right, his second hit of the game … but DeJesus was thrown out at second on a called hit and run on a 1-0 pitch to Valbuena.

The Mariners put a two-spot on the board in the third. Samardzija continued struggling with his command. Michael Saunders reached on an error by Alberto Gonzalez to start the inning. Robert Andino followed with a double over Schierholtz’s head in right. With runners on second and third with no outs, Raul Ibanez pulled a 1-0 pitch into right. Saunders scored, 2-1 Mariners. Smoak lined a 3-1 pitch into left. Soriano hauled in the sinking liner. Andino tagged and scored, 3-1 Seattle. Montero rolled into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning … Javier Baez started the slick double play by flipping the ball with his glove to Gonzalez.

Alfonso Soriano cut into the Mariners lead with his fourth homer in the Cactus League. Soriano lined a 2-2 pitch from Jon Garland over the wall in left.

Jason Bay was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double to start the fourth (7-6-3). Samardzija worked around an error by Baez, that was ruled a hit, and did not allow Seattle to tack on in the fourth.

Jeff Samardzija struck out the side in order in the fifth.

Justin Smoak extended the Mariners’ lead to 4-2 in the sixth. Smoak led off the inning with a long homer to left center. Samardzija retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning … and his outing.

Erasmo Ramirez replaced Jon Garland in the seventh inning and the Cubs took advantage of the youngster. Brad Nelson singled to start the seventh and advanced to third on a double off the bat of Alberto Gonzalez. Jeff Samardzija hit for himself and poked a 1-2 pitch into right field. Nelson scored and cut the Mariners’ lead to 4-3.

Darnell McDonald hit for David DeJesus and singled in Alberto Gonzalez with the tying run. Luis Valbuena dropped down a bunt and the runners advanced to second and third with one out. Schierholtz grounded out to first, the ball was hit too hard for Samardzija to try to score … and Ty Wright, up for the day from minor league camp, hit for Soriano and grounded out to short.

James Russell pitched a perfect seventh.

After Javier Baez reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Brendan Ryan with one out in the eighth, Brad Nelson launched a 1-1 pitch into the Cubs’ pen beyond the right field wall … 6-4 Cubs.

Carlos Marmol pitched around a leadoff walk in the eighth. Javier Baez made two excellent plays in the field behind him.

Darnell McDonald led off the ninth with a walk, advanced to second on good anticipation on a ball in the dirt, moved to third on a Schierholtz groundout to first … then scored on a single to center by Ty Wright.

The Mariners put two on in the ninth with one out against Kyuji Fujikawa … but Fujikawa retired Brendan Ryan and caught Michael Saunders looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the game.

The Cubs make the quick trip to Maryvale to take on the Brewers on Friday afternoon. Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to face Yovani Gallardo.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth