Game Twenty – Cubs 0, Reds 1
WP – Mat Latos (1-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-4) Save – Aroldis Chapman (4)
Once again the Cubs had chances to put runs on the board and once again the Cubs were on the losing end of a one-run ballgame as they were shut out in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Rain delayed what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Jeff Samardzija and Mat Latos for one hour and 29 minutes. While the Cubs let Latos of the hook and he escaped with his first victory of the season, Samardzija made one mistake and it cost him the game.
Jeff Samardzija put together another quality start despite cutting the index finger on his pitching hand in the first inning. Pitching with a bloody finger, Samardzija allowed one run on seven hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings. Five of the seven hits came to the first nine batters. A solo home run by Todd Frazier in the sixth that traveled 480 unhappy feet ended up being the difference in the game.
The 2013 Chicago Cubs have a plethora of issues but three-fifths of the starting rotation is not one of them. Samardzija recorded the Cubs’ 12th quality start in 20 games and the Cubs are just .500 in those games (6-6).
The offense could not get the job done again with runners on third base with less than one out. The Cubs finished the day 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left five on base.
Julio Borbon (1-for-3 with a double) made his first start in a Cubs’ uniform and broke up Latos’ no-hit bid with a one out double in the fourth. But the Cubs managed only two other hits through the first seven innings. Even with all of their struggles, the Cubs had a chance to tie or take the lead in the eighth.
The Cubs put runners on second and third with one out. Dale Sveum sent up Alfonso Soriano to pinch hit for Shawn Camp. Jonathan Broxton has had Soriano’s number over the years and struck out Soriano swinging for the second out. Zack Cozart made a game saving stop on a ball ticketed for centerfield and threw out David DeJesus at first base to end the threat.
Cody Ransom (1-for-2 with a sac bunt), Luis Valbuena (1-for-3) and Starlin Castro (1-for-4) all reached base in the losing effort. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4) hit the ball hard all afternoon and had just one base knock, in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman, to show for it.
The Cubs managed only five hits and a walk on Wednesday with six more strikeouts. The Cubs struck out 35 times in the three game series in Cincinnati.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to eight games under .500 on the young season (6-14).
The Cubs only real scoring threat came in the eighth inning. With his team down 1-0, Dioner Navarro walked to start the inning. Luis Valbuena then reached on an infield single to the hole at short. With runners on first and second and no outs, Dusty Baker went to the mound and replaced Mat Latos with Jonathan Broxton.
Cody Ransom bunted pinch runner Travis Wood to third and Valbuena to second. Dale Sveum sent up Alfonso Soriano to hit for Shawn Camp. Soriano struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) for the second out. David DeJesus then hit what appeared to be at least a game tying single to center. But Zack Cozart showed off his range, and threw out DeJesus at first to end the inning.
The Cubs open a four-game series in Miami on Thursday night … Edwin Jackson against Kevin Slowey in game one.