Nats Knock Around Samardzija – Cubs 3, Nationals 7

Game Thirty-Five – Cubs 3, Nationals 7

WP – Ross Detwiler (2-3) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-5) Save – None

It took only two hours and 23 minutes for the Nationals to hand the Cubs their 22nd loss of the season. The Cubs dropped their fifth straight, eight of the last nine, at Nationals Park on a night Jeff Samardzija just didn’t have it.

Jeff Samardzija had his worst outing since last June and one of his worst games since becoming a starter. Samardzija gave up season highs in runs, earned runs and hits in route to his fifth loss of the year. The Nationals squared up Samardzija throughout his outing … all four of the Nationals extra base hits plated at least one run.

Jeff Samardzija committed an error for the second straight start that led to the two unearned runs on Friday night. Cubs’ starters have been charged with a league-worst eight errors this year. Samardzija’s miscue in the second led to the Nationals first two runs and an early lead. After the Cubs tied it up in the third, the Nationals pulled ahead in the fourth on a two-run homer by Ian Desmond (3-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBI and three runs scored) and put the game away with a three-spot in the fifth inning. Samardzija appeared to lose his composure after Ian Desmond doubled with two outs in the fifth and gave up two more runs before he could record the third out. Samardzija hung several sliders, had very little downward movement with his fastball and it cost him the game.

Samardzija surrendered seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with two walks, five strikeouts and one huge error in five innings. Samardzija threw only 73 pitches, 50 for strikes.

The Cubs bullpen (Hector Rondon, Kyuji Fujikawa and Shawn Camp) kept the Nationals off the board over the final three innings but the offense was not able to cash in a season-high seven doubles.

The Cubs outhit the Nationals 10-9 on Friday night and recorded a season-high seven doubles. It is not too often that a team hits seven doubles and scores only three runs. But the Cubs did and finished the night 2-for-14 with RISP and left seven men on base.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with two doubles, a RBI and a run scored) hit leadoff on Friday night. Castro doubled to start the game and scored on an Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) groundout out. Castro then doubled in Jeff Samardzija (1-for-2 with a double and a run scored) with the Cubs’ second run in the third inning.

Ryan Sweeney (2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored) had a very good game in his first start with the Cubs. Sweeney scored the third run on a ground out by pinch hitter David DeJesus in the ninth inning.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to a season-low nine games under .500.

Friday night began on a very positive note for the Cubs. Starlin Castro doubled down the right field line to start the game (2-1 pitch). Cody Ransom worked a full count before hitting a dribbler to the first base side of the mound. Ross Detwiler fielded, looked at third before taking the sure out at first. Castro advanced to third and scored when Anthony Rizzo pulled the first pitch to the hole at second. Alfonso Soriano continued to struggle and fouled out to end the inning.

Samardzija struck out two of the first three batters he faced on nine pitches, eight strikes, to start his night. Samardzija looked very good in the opening inning before losing it in the second frame.

Ian Desmond reached on an infield single to short with one out in the second. Danny Espinosa followed and tapped a 1-1 pitch back to the mound. Samardzija bobbled the ball, then could not pick it up. Instead of what should have been an inning ending double play, the Nationals had runners on first and second with one down.

After Tyler Moore fouled out to Ransom, Kurt Suzuki doubled off the wall in right. Desmond and Espinosa scored, 2-1 Nationals. Detwiler grounded out to Rizzo for the third out.

Jeff Samardzija led off the third with a double to left, his first hit of the season. Starlin Castro followed with a double to right center (2-1 pitch). Samardzija scored and tied the game at two. Ransom worked another full count before swinging and missing at the 3-2 pitch for the first out. Anthony Rizzo pulled a 1-1 pitch into right. Castro rounded third and was sent to the plate. Roger Bernadina threw a strike to Suzuki and cut down Castro at the plate for the second out. Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

Samardzija retired the side in order in the third. Samardzija needed only 35 pitches, 27 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.

Scott Hairston led off the fourth with a double into the corner in left. But the Cubs could not drive him in. Castillo flied out to shallow right, Sweeney grounded out to second and with Hairston at third, Barney fouled out to LaRoche to end the inning.

Adam LaRoche led off the fourth with a single to center then trotted around the bases when Ian Desmond pulled a 0-1 hanging slider from Samardzija into the stands in left. Desmond’s fifth homer of the season gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Samardzija settled down and struck out Espinosa before giving up a single to Tyler Moore. But Suzuki flied out to right and Samardzija caught Detwiler looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Denard Span made a fine diving catch to take an extra basehit away from Samardzija to start the fifth. Cody Ransom doubled to left with two down but Rizzo grounded out to second for the third out.

The Nationals put the game away in the fifth.

Samardzija issued a leadoff walk to Denard Span. Roger Bernadina grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and it looked like Samardzija could escape the fifth. Samardzija’s control problems continued and he issued hit second walk of the night, and inning, to Ryan Zimmerman. Adam LaRoche pulled a 1-2 pitch into right. Scott Hairston dove to try and catch the sinking liner but came up short. The ball hit off the end of his glove, Zimmerman ended up at third and Samardzija was in trouble.

Ian Desmond followed with a double to right. Zimmerman scored and LaRoche ended up at third. Danny Espinosa then launched the first pitch he saw high off the wall in right center. LaRoche and Desmond scored easily on the double … 7-2 Nationals. Tyler Moore flied out to deep left center to finally end the inning.

The game remained 7-2 until the ninth.

Ryan Sweeney worked a one out walk. Darwin Barney then ended his 0-for-24 skid with a double to left off Craig Stammen. David DeJesus hit for Shawn Camp and rolled the first pitch he saw out to second base. Sweeney scored, 7-3 Nationals. With Barney at third and two down, Castro pulled the first pitch to Zimmerman at third … who threw across the diamond to end the game.

Weather permittingEdwin Jackson faces Stephen Strasburg on Saturday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Theboardrider

    I feel good about Sweeney. I’d like to see him work his way into a long term spot for us. That or become a flippable trade piece.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree, he looked good playing tonight, also would like to see more of him.

    • Tony_Hall

      Most likely will be a FA after this season and be traded.

  • John_CC

    So much for Shark the Ace. He’s a talented pitcher, I’m not dogging him, but it will be good to have Garza back in the rotation. And you know that Epstein is chomping at the bit for a chance at David Price and working Ricketts to commit to paying him for an extension. The next step forward is a true staff Ace via trade or FA.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree John, hope it happens, it has to.

    • Ray Ray

      Shark has always been projected as a #3/#4. He is not an ace. He throws too many pitches and makes too many mistakes over a course of a game. He is a talented pitcher and as long as you don’t expect too much from him. Garza is the only top of the rotation starter on this staff(IMO)

      On David Price…I would be leery to give up a ton of prospects for him. FanGraphs has detected a significant drop in velocity this year.

      • Tony_Hall

        Actually Samardzija was projected to be a reliever before Theo got here, with only 5 career starts before Theo and Co. put him in the rotation last year.

        And he is struggling so much this year, that his ERA 3.70 and his WHIP is 1.253.

        He is better than a 3/4 slot. Right now he is more of a 2/3, with more room to grow.

        • Ray Ray

          Again. Not true. Read this minor league report below.

          Scouting report: He features a heavy fastball with some serious
          sink. Sits comfortably at 92 mph as a starter and can touch 96-97 mph
          coming out of the bullpen. His slider is a plus pitch at times, but his
          changeup, which he didn’t need in relief, lags a bit behind the other

          Upside potential: A workhorse who can log 200-plus innings per season with plus stuff or a nasty closer shutting the door in the ninth.

          He said it: “When I don’t have to answer football questions
          anymore, I’ll be a happy dude. That’s what I’m working on now. Every
          inning I go out there, every quick inning that I get outs and get back
          in the dugout will help.” — Samardzija on his past as a Notre Dame wide receiver

          They said it: “It depends on what happens over the winter. I know
          he wants to start down the road and nobody doesn’t feel he’d be real
          good at starting. Next spring, we’re going to put him in whatever role
          helps the club the most … ” — Cubs GM Jim Hendry

          • Brp921

            I agree he was draftedto be a starter.they would not have paid him over slot to be a reliever

          • Tony_Hall

            That was when he was drafted.

            I am talking about after 5 seasons of up and down in the minors, he was looked at as nothing more than a reliever.

          • Ray Ray

            So…..Hendry never gave him an opportunity to win a spot in spring training a couple of years ago? Cmon Tony. This is not a Theo experiment. He would have been where he is now no matter who the GM is. Hendry,Theo,Dallas Green. Anyone. With the lack of starting pitching in the system and trading away Cashner this was a given

          • Tony_Hall

            JH bouced him back and forth and never said you are a starting pitcher and started him.

            These guys did.

            You can give them credit when they deserve it.

          • Ray Ray

            So if he failed as a starter like he did before….he would still be starting? They were trying to win back then. Hendry didn’t have a free pass like Theo.

          • Tony_Hall

            Fair enough. If he had failed what would they have done is a fair questions.

            Last June
            10.41 ERA
            2.057 WHIP

            But came back with

            July 1.94 – 1.03
            Aug 3.52 – 1.096
            Sept 1.69 – .813

            JH would have put him in the bullpen in June. Maybe in the name of winning, but even playoff teams can use the 5 spot for a young pitcher.

          • Ray Ray

            They lost 100 games last year Tony. Apple to Oranges. They could live or die with him

          • Tony_Hall

            I will use your examples, do you think a team has ever made the playoffs with a young pitcher who was developing as their #5 guy?

            All teams can do it, some just choose not to.

          • Ray Ray

            In 2008….The Cubs won 97 games. That was Shark’s first year. IF you can use him to help the team in the playoffs as a relief pitcher you do it. Look at Trevor Rosenthal with the Cards. He was a starter in the minors. Are the Cards screwing him bouncing him back and forth? Rosenthal helped them win a WS as a relief pitcher. He also is helping the Cards this year more as a reliever. Does that mean he will always stay there? In 2009 the Cubs staff was set and he was able to help the team again out of the pen. There was never a clear cut role for Shark. He needed to work on command and secondary pitches. This is not a Strassburg or Matt Harvey. He was not an ace in the making in the minors.

          • Tony_Hall

            They may be. Papelbon was a starter, but needed as a closer. He has had a good career as a closer, but his career could have been better as a starter, and he could have made even more money (not that he hasn’t made a ton of money as a closer)

            Fine line between what is best for the player and what is best for team, short term and long term.

          • Ray Ray

            Teams trying to win use every resource they can to win a WS. I just looked up Shark’s minor league numbers. Tell me what year he could have cracked the major league rotation? He had command issues and he was given opportunities in spring to win a spot on several occasions.

            2008 21 GS 1.286 WHIP

            2009 17 GS 1.404 WHIP

            2010 15 GS 1.374 WHIP

            You have to admit that he has come a long way.

          • Tony_Hall

            Absolutely correct!!!!!

            Thank-you for finding the info to help everyone understand that this FO is who figured out how to make this horse a SP that has the potential to be a top of the rotation guy.

            He has always had the physical skills, they gave him the opportunity and the support he needed to be successful.

          • Brp921

            That is where the Cubs went wrong in developing him. They should have left him in the minorsas a starter until if and when he provedhe couldn’t be a starter but insteadthey brought him up and down and switched him back and forth starter to relieverand now he’s 28 years old and still hasn’t figuredthings out. That’s why I like the fact that Ricketts is more patientand doesn’t insist on puuti
            G a winner out there to put fans in the seats.

          • Ray Ray

            But if he can help a playoff team in the bullpen???? Most teams with power arms do this. Look at Texas with Neftali Feliz and Ogando. Look what the Reds wanted to do with Chapman. Andrew Cashner with the Cubs and Padres.

          • Brp921

            being in a pennant race isn’t alwaysthe best thing for a rookie pitchera manager is going to ride his horses look what happened to Mark Prior.

      • John_CC

        Samardzija is better than #34 SP, and I’m not alone on that. Lots of people see top of the rotation potential. As you said he throws to many pitches, if could just figure out how to stay consistent, he has everything else to be a staff aces.

        • Brp921

          He does have great stuff. But if he can’t put it together then he is no better than a three or four guy. It’s to bad he couldn’t have been developed better as a starter when he was younger.

  • paulcatanese

    Well so much for Castro batting leadoff. He looked very comfortable there. It fits his style at the plate, he only has to think about what he has to do, swing the bat.

    That’s been the main problem with him, hitting in a situational spot, it takes away from his mental approach.

    Sorry if most don’t agree, but that’s what I see with him, a free swinger that wants to hit and not worry about what direction to hit the ball or pitches that he must take. given the spot in the lineup that dictates as such.

    He did a good job there, and only does as well in the five spot, but not in the two hole.
    I say hit him in either spot leadoff or the fifth spot. They will get the most out of him then.

    • Sonate

      Agree completely. If and until he learns the strike zone, I’d slot him 5 or 6. His 295 (lifetime) BA looks fine until you see his on-base percentage hovering around 325. That’s too low for lead-off. Also, he led the league last year in caught-stealing, which also detracts from him as a lead-off man.

    • Brp921

      I just wish Dale Sveum would quit messing with him and let him hit. He batted .300 with 200 hits before Sveum got ahold of him. Now he’s a .270ish hitter.

      • Tony_Hall

        Any player that stops working on improving his game, will see his average work its way down as pitchers find new ways to get batters out.

        • Brp921

          I think there is a difference between trying to improve your game and trying to become something you are not. I think Sveum is trying to change Castro into a type of hitter that he is not comfortable being. I think as Castro matures he will naturally become more disciplined, but to force it all on him now has caused him to struggle.

          • Tony_Hall

            Unfortunately, to get better you have to work on things and can lead to a short term decrease in stats. He is in his age 23 season, when many players are learning and/or refining these same things in the minors.

            It is not just Sveum, it is the organization’s philosophy on hitting. The team can afford to have a couple of players that don’t get it, but it will be better if the whole lineup does, as it helps knock out starters early or forces them to throw more strikes, all good things for the offense.

            Naturally could take a long, long time

          • Brp921

            I think I posted a year or two ago that if or when Castro learned to be more selective at the plate, I thought he could consistently hit around .330 to .350. But last year and now this year he seems lost at times trying to be that. Maybe he just hasn’t got it in him not to be a free swinger (The old walks don’t get you off the island attitude) That’s not all bad as there have been alot of successful free swingers down through history.
            I agree that the new Cub’s philosophy is to take alot of pitches, go to deep counts and force alot of pitches to get into the bullpen early. It’s a good philosophy…with the right players. It may be that Castro doesn’t fit that philosophy and will be used to bring in some talent that fits the plan down the road.

          • Tony_Hall

            330-350….he is not Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn.

            300-315 would be the highest I can see him being, except for a season or two in the prime of his career.

            I also believe that they gave Castro his extension to give him the security to work on his game during this timeframe of the rebuild. And if they say Castro is what he is and let him be a free swinger than so be it, but right now, it is well worth trying to make him a great offensive force.

          • Ray Ray

            What did Vlady Guerrero hit? What would have happened to his career if they changed him?

          • Tony_Hall

            When Vlad played no one was analyzing stats like today. For every Vlad that could hit any pitch there are hundreds and hundreds of players who couldn’t. More likely thousands of players.

            But lets compare what teams and coaching staffs should do today, to a very unique hitter who played when teams didn’t know what they know today.

          • Ray Ray

            Right. You leave special players alone. Castro is special.

          • Tony_Hall

            But he could be great if he can grow as a hitter by learning to not swing at pitchers pitches.

            I am not knocking Castro, I have been a big supporter of him since he was coming up in the minors. But at 23, I feel he can be one of the greats if he can learn this philosophy.

          • Brp921

            I agree. He’s not Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn. You and I and about everyone else can look at him now and see that. But after his age 20 rookie season with 200 hits while swinging at everything (going how far into the season without even swinging and missing…was it 19 games?) I thought he might have that potential. If you saw him at that time as no better than a little over .300 hitter and that was all you are a much keener observer than I am Tony :).

          • Tony_Hall

            Not sure I saw that then, and I am sure I had high hopes just like you. But to be a 330-350 hitter you have to know the strike zone and not to swing at pitchers pitches. Major league pitchers will eventually learn your weakness and exploit it, and if you swing at it, your average will go down. If you take that pitch and look for them to miss that spot, then you have a chance to have a really high average.

          • Brp921


          • Ray Ray

            Agree Brp. Castro has an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball. He started striking out more when the Cubs changed his approach. Let your thoroughbred run!!! He will eventually become more selective. Team will pitch around him and his OBP will increase.

          • Tony_Hall

            So if you were his coach, you would just let him go during these crucial development years, and then wait until he gets into his early 30’s to have him work on pitch selection. This is why so many good players fizzle out in their early 30’s when they can’t make the adjustments to a slowing bat.

            Why would pitchers pitch around him if they know he will swing at pitchers pitches?

          • Ray Ray

            If you are asking me if I would tell him he needs to be like Luis Valbuena? No I wouldn’t. Valbuena doesn’t have the talent to have 200 hits in a season. Do you think Castro doesn’t understand what pitch selection is? He will figure it out on his own as long as he is not forced to alter his approach.

          • Tony_Hall

            No he needs to be like Castro not someone else. But learning to not reach for pitches on the first pitch would be nice. Having the patience to take a strike, if it is one he can’t do much with, is not too much to ask of any hitter.

            He can make contact, he should not be afraid to take some pitches, work the count and still do what he does best, make contact with 2 strikes on him.

            Is there another player you would rather have up if you need the bat on the ball?

          • Ray Ray

            He had a .341 OBP in 2011. If it ain’t broke….don’t fix it. It would have increased naturally as he matures.

          • Tony_Hall

            This horse is dead, we disagree on players naturally improving their numbers without working on their game, even though pitchers are getting more and more info on how to get them out.

            Time to go to a game anyway.

            I may be back during the game today, if you want to see if we can beat this horse around some more.

          • Ray Ray

            Castro is a special hitter. He has already had 200 hits in a season. I agree. He will get more selective as he ages. These Latin players know you need to swing the bat as young players to get out of the country and make it to the states and mlb. Don’t mess with him and he will figure it out. I don’t believe you should take the aggresiveness away from a successful hitter.

    • Tony_Hall

      If he doesn’t learn how to take the pitches that he should take, and wait for a pitch in his sweet spot, until he has to defend with 2 strikes, he fits best 5th/6th where a lineup can afford a free swinger more. 1st and 2nd need to be the highest OBP in the lineup, outside of your 3/4 hitters. But, this isn’t a typical lineup, so players will be batting out of where they need to be slotted.

      All spots in the lineup are situational spots after the lead-off guy in the 1st inning. All players need to understand what the situation is, and if you are going to make an out, what would be the best way to do it (hit the ball to the right side to advance the runner, fly ball to go for a sac fly, etc) and then use that thought to try for a hit.

      As far as taking pitches, I still think so many Cub fans think the goal is to take walks. It is NOT. It is to get a pitch you can drive, by making the pitcher work, by not swinging at pitches you can’t drive. The box starts in your best zone, thigh high inside, belt high outside, etc. Then when you get 2 strikes the zone expands a little. Then with 2 strikes you have to defend. All of this is to get a pitch you can drive, because if a player does this, they will walk more (increase OBP), they will increase their average (swinging at better pitches will result in more hits) and will increase their slugging (as they will be able to hit harder more of the hits). A player like Castro, if he can’t do this, then he needs to just go back to swinging at whatever and play his game. But giving him a few seasons to work on this, is well worth it for his long term career.

      • Ray Ray

        Partially true. Not ALL spots in the lineup are situational spots. You don’t ask your run producers to do anything different. You might have a rare situation every once in a while but for the most part… don’t see the Bryce Harper’s,Pince Fielders,Josh Hamilton’s etc do anything different.

        • Tony_Hall

          So in a tie game in the 8th inning, with less than 2 outs, and a man on third, you don’t think these great players are thinking fly ball, fly ball, fly ball?

          I agree they wouldn’t be thinking just punch it the right side to drive in the run. All players need to know and realize what the situation is, to help the team win.

          • Ray Ray

            Sure. It happens occasionally throughout the course of a year but not a daily game occurance(that is my point)

        • John_CC

          I really disagree with this comment. The best hitters always adjust to the situation. Miggy Cabrera is, IMO, the best hitter in the game. He understands the strike zone, kills the ball when it is in his wheel house, but hits a lot of singles to the opposite field. By being smart and selective a pitcher rarely beats him. This is how a hitter can have batting average of .330+ with 35+ HR and always drive in well over 100 runs per season. It is not because he never adjusts, he adjusts every AB, hell every pitch. As does Prince and the hitters you mention. Great hitters are not one dimensional. Rather, one dimensional hitters will never be great.

          • Ray Ray

            That is not situational hitting……that is hitting. Will Miggy hit a ground ball to the right side with a runner on 2nd and no outs to give himself up in the 3rd inning? Will Miggy bunt a runner over to 2nd with a runner on 1st in a tie game many times? Good hitters take what the pitcher gives them. I am talking about what Tony brought up about situational hitting.

  • Tony_Hall

    Good discussions this morning. Can we even imagine the discussions that go on at Clark and Addison about these players?