Samardzija Solid in Sin City – Cubs 5, Rangers 1

Spring Training Game Twenty-Two – Cubs (ss) 5, Rangers (ss) 1

WP – Jeff Samardzija (2-0) LP – Nick Tepesch (0-1) Save – None

wflag-pubThe Cubs started their annual trip to Las Vegas on a positive note with a victory over the Rangers behind an excellent outing from Jeff Samardzija.

Jeff Samardzija put together his best outing of the spring against a Rangers’ travel squad. Samardzija tossed five innings of shutout ball, and more importantly, he hit his spots. Samardzija appeared to find a rhythm early and pitched ahead in the count. Other than a few communication problems with Dioner Navarro, Samardzija was efficient enough to where he had to finish his afternoon in the bullpen increasing his pitch count.

Jeff Samardzija surrendered just three hits, one for extra bases, issued one walk and struck out three batters over five innings … with six groundball outs.

James Russell allowed the only run on the afternoon in the sixth. Zach Putnam, Jaye Chapman and Blake Parker put together scoreless outings.

Cubs’ pitching issued just one walk on the afternoon while striking out 10 batters.

The Cubs offense did just enough at Cashman Field to walk away with the spring win. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a RBI) singled in Steve Clevenger (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) with the game’s first run in the third inning. Starlin Castro (1-for-2 with a double, a sac fly, RBI and a run scored) plated Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a run scored) with a sacrifice fly in the third. Scott Hairston (1-for-4 with a home run) lined his second homer of the spring over the wall in left in the fourth inning. Dioner Navarro (1-for-3 with a RBI) singled in Castro in the sixth and Brian Bogusevic (1-for-3 with a RBI) drove in Nate Schierholtz (1-for-2 with a double, a walk and a run scored) with the Cubs’ fifth run in the sixth inning.

On the afternoon, the Cubs’ offense scored five runs on 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

The Cubs played a good game in Las Vegas, which is always good to see, Spring Training or not.

Jeff Samardzija worked around a leadoff single by Elvis Andrus in the first inning. Samardzija struck out Gentry, retired Mitch Moreland on a flyout to left and A.J. Pierzynski flied out to left to end the inning.

The Cubs got on the board in the third inning after Samardzija retired the Rangers in order in the second.

Steve Clevenger, who started the game at first base and ended the game at third, led off the third inning with a double to right center. Maysonet, who began the game at third base and finished it at first, flied out to right. Luis Valbuena reached on a bloop single to left, just out of the reach of Elvis Andrus. Clevenger held at second. Darwin Barney then put the Cubs on the board with a single to right. Clevenger scored and Valbuena ended up a third with one down.

Starlin Castro did his job and hit a ball to right that was deep enough for Valbuena to tag and score the Cubs’ second run. Schierholtz grounded out to first for the third out.

Samardzija walked Mike Olt to start the Rangers’ third. Engel Beltre tried to bunt his way on, but Samardzija got off the mound quickly and threw to second. Valbuena caught the high throw and touched the bag ahead of the sliding Olt. Beltre swiped second with Andrus at the plate. Andrus grounded out to third, Beltre held and was stranded when Gentry grounded out to Barney to end the inning.

Scott Hairston led off the fourth with his second homer of the spring. Hairston hit a home run in the rain shortened game against the Reds, but that was wiped away when the game was called.

A.J. Pierzynski doubled to right with one out in the fourth (3-2 pitch), the only extra base hit off Samardzija on the afternoon. But Samardzija retired Solarte on a fly out to left and struck out Brandon Allen swinging to end the inning.

Samardzija worked around a leadoff single by Aaron Cunningham in the fifth. Cunningham advanced to second on a wild pitch with Mike Olt at the plate. Samardzija struck out Olt swinging. Beltre then hit a deep drive to left. Bogusevic hauled it in near the wall and threw a strike to Maysonet at third. Cunningham slid in and if Maysonet would have hung onto the ball, Cunningham would have been out. Bogusevic showed off his strong, accurate arm on the play. Samardzija ended his day by retiring Andrus on a grounder to third.

Starlin Castro led off the sixth with a double to right center off of right-hander Cory Burns. Schierholtz walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Hairston struck out swinging but Navarro ripped a long single off the wall in right. Castro rounded third and slid in safe with the Cubs fourth run. Schierholtz ended up at third and scored when Bogusevic drove a 3-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Clevenger grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning.

The Rangers’ lone run of the game came in the sixth inning. Craig Gentry led off with a triple to right and scored on a grounder to Maysonet at first base. Russell retired Pierzynski (pop out to short) and Solarte (swinging strikeout) to end the inning.

The Rangers managed just two other baserunners the rest of the game … and while several of the minor leaguers with the Cubs for the trip to Vegas, such as Tim Saunders, Elliot Soto and Ty Wright, the Cubs were kept off the board over their final three at bats.

Sunday is another split squad day for the Cubs. Carlos Villanueva and half of the Cubs roster will host Robbie Ross and the Rangers at Cashman Field in Las Vegas while Scott Baker will make his Cubs’ debut in Phoenix against the A’s.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax