Game Fifty-Nine: Cubs (24-34) vs. Pirates (36-25)
- Game Time – 3:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 186/844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jeff Samardzija (3-6, 2.96/1.10) vs. A.J. Burnett (3-6, 3.22/1.06)
The Cubs will shoot to end their four-game losing streak against the Pirates this afternoon behind Jeff Samardzija. Not only has Dale Sveum’s team lost four straight to the Bucs but the offense has been shut out in three of the Cubs’ seven games against the Pirates this season. The Cubs are 2-5 in the first seven with the Bucs while being outscored a total of six runs in the seven games (Cubs scored 12 games, Cubs pitching has allowed 18 runs). The Cubs have dropped five of six to the Pirates and are only 10-18 in their last 28 games with the Pirates. Until the Cubs figure out how to beat their division rivals consistently, the losing seasons will continue.
One of the many areas in which the Cubs must improve upon is their performance against teams in the NL Central. After Friday’s loss the Cubs are just 6-17 against the division. So, while the Cubs enter play today 10 games under .500, they are a game over .500 versus teams outside of the NL Central.
Dale Sveum should fill his lineup with as many lefties as possible this afternoon. Not only is Ryan Sweeney 6-for-19 with a double, a home run and a walk in his career against Burnett while Alfonso Soriano is just 5-for-25 with 10 strikeouts, but lefties have hit .250/.385/.318 against him this year while right handers have managed just a .181/.218/.264 slash line.
This afternoon it all starts with Jeff Samardzija …
Jeff Samardzija is coming off another solid outing but one that came with a little controversy. Samardzija ran up his pitch count early on in his last start against Arizona and was out of gas by the seventh inning. Samardzija issued a pair of walks before handing the game over to the bullpen. The D-Backs pounded the Cubs relief corps into submission last Saturday night and turned what was a close game into another embarrassment. For his part, Samardzija was charged with three runs on seven hits with four walks and 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings … the second time this season Samardzija recorded double digit strikeout totals and received either a loss or a no decision for his effort.
During the game Samardzija and Matt Williams exchanged words that were apparently more than what Samardzija thought at the time. The next day Kirk Gibson said Samardzija should just shut up and pitch.
Jeff Samardzija has seemingly done more pitching than talking this season. Samardzija was 2-2 in his five previous starts before his outing against Arizona with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. In his last six games, Samardzija is 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP (44 strikeouts and 14 walks).
Samardzija faces the Pirates for the third time this season. Samardzija is 1-1 in the first two with a 0.60 ERA and a 0.47 WHIP … just one run on five hits allowed in 15 innings with two walks and 17 strikeouts. For his career, Samardzija owns a 4-1 mark in 15 games, four starts, against the Pirates with a 0.98 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija
- Pedro Alvarez – 2-for-13 with a double
- Clint Barmes – 0-for-9
- A.J. Burnett – 0-for-2
- Garrett Jones – 2-for-13 with a double and two walks
- Starling Marte – 0-for-9 with a walk
- Russell Martin – 1-for-7
- Andrew McCutchen – 6-for-16 with three doubles and two walks
- Michael McKenry – 0-for-3
- Jordy Mercer – 0-for-3
- Gaby Sanchez – 1-for-10
- Travis Snider – 0-for-4
- Jose Tabata – 1-for-3
- Neil Walker – 2-for-13 with a home run and two walks
The Cubs will get their second look of the season at A.J. Burnett this afternoon. Burnett is coming off his worst start of the season. The Braves knocked Burnett out of his last start after just five innings. Burnett allowed six runs on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts … and the homer-happy Braves launched three homers off Burnett that accounted for all six runs (Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman each hit two-run homers).
Prior to his last start, Burnett was 1-3 in six starts with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. For as good as Burnett has been this season, he has struggled outside of Pittsburgh. Burnett is 1-3 in five road starts this year with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs beat Burnett on Opening Day. The Cubs score three runs on six hits with a walk in 5 2/3 innings. Burnett struck out a season-high 10 batters and lost to a Cubs’ team for only the second time in his career. Burnett owns a 6-2 mark in nine starts versus the Cubs with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP … at Wrigley Field, Burnett is a perfect 4-0 in five starts with a 3.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against A.J. Burnett
- Darwin Barney – 2-for-7
- Julio Borbon – 1-for-9
- Welington Castillo – 2-for-3 with two doubles
- Starlin Castro – 8-for-16
- David DeJesus – 4-for-29 with a double and four walks
- Scott Hairston – 2-for-3
- Dioner Navarro – 6-for-29 with a double and a home run
- Cody Ransom – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Anthony Rizzo – 2-for-9 with a home run and a walk
- Jeff Samardzija – 0-for-2
- Nate Schierholtz – 3-for-5 with a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-25
- Ryan Sweeney – 6-for-19 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-9 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …