Game Fifty – Cubs 7, White Sox 0
WP – Jeff Samardzija (3-6) LP – Jose Quintana (3-2) Save – None
Jeff Samardzija put together his best outing as a starter. Samardzija faced one over the minimum through the first eight innings and just three over the minimum in his complete game gem. Samardzija allowed only two hits, both singles, and walked two batters while striking out eight on just 108 pitches, 65 for strikes. Samardzija found a rhythm early and took advantage of the White Sox’s aggressiveness. The Sox squared up only three balls on the night and two of those went for hits.
Jeff Samardzija led the Cubs to the first team shutout this season, and the first by a Cubs’ pitcher in Interleague play. Samardzija received the most run support he had in a single start since last August 13 at Wrigley against the Astros.
As it turned out the run the Cubs scored in the first inning on an Alfonso Soriano single would be enough but the top of the lineup had a huge night … 1-4 in the Cubs lineup went 9-for-18 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, six RBI, two stolen bases, a walk and six runs scored.
Patience paid off early for the Cubs as their first two walks of the game came around to score. Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored) walked, stole second and scored on a long two-out RBI single by Alfonso Soriano (3-for-4 with two RBI). Ryan Sweeney then walked in the fifth and trotted around the bases on a home run off the bat of Julio Borbon (2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored). The Cubs manufactured their fourth run in the sixth inning. Scott Hairston (0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI) drove in Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5 with a double, a triple, two RBI and two runs scored) with a sac fly after Rizzo led off the sixth with a double and advanced to third on a flyout to right off the bat of Soriano.
The Cubs tacked on three more runs in the seventh with Anthony Rizzo delivering the big blow, a two-run triple to center. The Cubs scored early, added on in the middle innings and put the game away. The offense scored seven runs on nine hits, four for extra bases, and three walks.
Monday night was a complete game effort, every player seemed to contribute, but Jeff Samardzija took his game to another level with the best start of his big league career.
With Monday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 20-30 on the season.
After Jose Quintana struck out Julio Borbon swinging on a 2-2 pitch to start the game, Starlin Castro walked (3-1 pitch). Anthony Rizzo put together another long at bat. Rizzo worked a full count and Castro took off for second on the 3-2 offering. Rizzo swung and missed but Alexei Ramirez did not cover second. Tyler Flowers did not make a throw and Castro ended up in scoring position with two outs. Alfonso Soriano pulled a 0-1 pitch to deep left. Soriano thought he got it all but the ball hit off the top of the wall and bounced right to Dayan Viciedo. Castro scored on what ended up as a long single. Soriano admired his work and it kept him from ending up with a two-out run scoring double. Scott Hairston was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija mowed down the Sox in order on just 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the first inning and really set the tone for the night.
The game remained 1-0 Cubs until the fifth inning. Samardzija gave up a single to Conor Gillaspie leading off the third but ended up facing the minimum in the inning when Keppinger grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Samardzija retired the Sox in order in the fourth and needed only 43 pitches, 27 for strikes, to complete four innings on Monday night.
Ryan Sweeney worked a one-out walk in the fifth. Julio Borbon stepped in with two down after Barney popped out to first base. With the Cubs clinging to a one-run lead, Julio Borbon crushed the first pitch from Jose Quintana. The ball ended up in the stands in right and the Cubs took a 3-0 lead on Borbon’s first homer as a Cub and first longball in the big leagues since he took Mark Buehrle deep on July 4, 2010. Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.
Samardzija issued a four-pitch walk to Paul Konerko in the fifth, but that was all. Samardzija threw 59 pitches, 35 for strikes, over the first five innings … and after five complete the Cubs led 3-0.
Anthony Rizzo led off the sixth with a double to right center. Alfonso Soriano flied out to right on a 3-2 pitch, Rizzo tagged and went to third. Scott Hairston did his job and lifted a 0-1 pitch to right center. Rizzo tagged and scored, 4-0 Cubs. Welington Castillo walked on four pitches, his fourth walk in as many games but Cody Ransom struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs went back to work in the seventh against Nate Jones after Samardzija pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
Ryan Sweeney reached on an error by Tyler Flowers. Sweeney tried to check his swing on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Sweeney went around but the ball skipped past Flowers. Sweeney broke for first late but reached when Konerko could not scoop Flowers’ low throw. Barney popped out to short for the first out. Julio Borbon followed with a single to left center. Starlin Castro pulled a 1-0 pitch into left. David Bell waived Sweeney around on Castro’s single. Dayan Viciedo made a surprisingly accurate throw and nailed Sweeney at the plate. Borbon advanced to third on the play. Rizzo stepped in with runners on first and second with one out.
Anthony Rizzo crushed Jones’ first pitch to straight away center. Rizzo just missed a three-run homer and had to settle for a two-run triple, his first three-bagger of the season. Borbon and Castro scored to make it 6-0 Cubs. Alfonso Soriano followed with a single to center that plated Rizzo with the seventh run of the game. Hairston flied out to left center to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija retired the Sox in order in the eighth and needed only 92 pitches, 58 for strikes, to complete eight innings. Samardzija went back out for the ninth after retiring 11 in a row and 23 of the 25 batters he faced. Samardzija issued a one-out walk to Flowers and a two-out single to Alexei Ramirez, only the second hit of the game off Samardzija, before Alex Rios popped out to Barney to end the game.
Edwin Jackson has the tall task of facing Chris Sale on Tuesday night at the Cell.