Samardzija, A Squeeze and Another Loss to the Brewers – Cubs 3, Brewers 4

Game One Hundred Fifty-One – Cubs 3, Brewers 4

WP – Jim Henderson (5-5) LP – Justin Grimm (0-1) Save – None

Welington Castillo gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the seventh with a two-run homer, his fourth longball of the road trip, but Jeff Samardzija could not hold the lead and Logan Schafer squeezed in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Brewers (5-12) once again on Tuesday night.

Jeff Samardzija reached two personal milestones. Samardzija topped the 200-inning mark on Tuesday and struck out Sean Halton swinging in the fifth for his 200th strikeout of the season. But Samardzija was not the same after exchanging words in the dugout with David Bell following the sixth inning in what appeared to be a disagreement over defensive positioning.

The offense fought back and not only tied the game in the seventh but took the lead on Castillo’s two-run homer. Samardzija issued a leadoff walk to Aramis Ramirez in the seventh and Carlos Gomez followed with a two-run homer that tied the game.

Jeff Samardzija was charged with only one run over his first six innings and that run scored on a sac fly after an error by Ryan Sweeney allowed Aramis Ramirez to take third on a double. Samardzija faced the minimum in the third before he retired the next six batters he faced. Samardzija had a good night until the seventh inning and still ended up with his first quality start since August 24.

Jeff Samardzija allowed three runs on five hits with two walks, a hit batsman and eight strikeouts. Samardzija threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, in seven innings.

Pedro Strop pitched a perfect eighth and Justin Grimm allowed the winning run in the ninth after his error loaded the bases with no outs.

Cubs’ pitching issued three walks on Tuesday and both free passes to Aramis Ramirez (one in the seventh, one in the ninth) scored.

The Cubs sloppy play against the Brewers continued on Tuesday. After being charged with three errors on Monday, the Cubs committed two more miscues on Tuesday that helped the Brewers score two runs. Five charged errors in two games is just bad baseball.

The Cubs outhit the Brewers 7-6 on Tuesday but were a miserable 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving four men on base.

Welington Castillo (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) had another excellent game at the plate and made one of the best throws a catcher could make in the third inning when he threw out Jean Segura trying to steal second base. Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a stolen base) collected two more hits and Junior Lake (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) doubled in the seventh and scored the Cubs’ first run on a sac fly by Ryan Sweeney (0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI). Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) and Dioner Navarro (1-for-1 with a double) notched the Cubs other two hits.

The Cubs put runners in scoring position in each of their last two at bats and could not push across the winning run.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to a season-low 25 games under .500 with a 63-88 record.

After the Cubs went down in order against Marco Estrada on ten pitches, nine for strikes, to start the game, Jeff Samardzija retired the Brewers in order on nine pitches, five for strikes, in the first inning.

The Cubs were extremely aggressive in the second inning and went down in order on 11 pitches. The Cubs allowed Estrada to complete two innings by throwing only 21 pitches, 14 for strikes.

The Brewers took an early lead in the second inning behind another Cubs’ error. Aramis Ramirez drove Samardzija’s first pitch of the inning into right center. And when Sweeney went to pick up the ball, he could not find the handle. Ramirez lumbered all the way to third with what was scored as a double and E8. Carlos Gomez lifted a 1-1 pitch into center. Sweeney caught the ball and Ramirez jogged in from third … 1-0 Brewers. Gennett lined out to left. Samardzija issued a two-out walk to Caleb Gindl (3-1 pitch) then hit Sean Halton with a 1-1 offering. With runners on first and second with two outs, Samardzija struck out Estrada swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs trailed 1-0 after two innings and that is the way the game would remain until the sixth. Starlin Castro singled to center to lead off the fourth, the Cubs’ first hit and Welington Castillo singled to center with one down in the fifth but those two singles were all the Cubs could manage in six innings against Estrada.

Jeff Samardzija settled in after the second inning. And Welington Castillo helped his pitcher out by throwing out Jean Segura at second base in the third. Samardzija struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth and set down the side in order again in the fifth. Samardzija needed 65 pitches, 43 for strikes, to complete five innings. Samardzija notched the 200th strikeout of his season when he struck out Sean Halton swinging for the second out in the fifth inning.

After the Cubs went down in order in the sixth, Norichika Aoki led off the sixth with a triple into the right field corner. Aoki pulled the ball down the line past a diving Rizzo. Rizzo appeared to be shading Aoki toward second. Samardzija jammed Segura on a 2-0 pitch and the Brewers’ shortstop popped out to Castro. Jonathan Lucroy stepped in and pulled a 1-2 pitch right to a drawn-in Donnie Murphy. Murphy fielded the ball, threw to Castillo, who flipped back to Murphy. Murphy tagged Aoki and threw to second in time to get a sliding Lucroy to end the inning (5-2-5-4). Samardzija needed 74 pitches, 49 for strikes, to complete six innings of work.

The Cubs’ trailed 1-0 after six innings.

Junior Lake led off the seventh with a double into the left field corner. Rizzo delivered a productive out and grounded out to second. Lake advanced to third with one down. Nate Schierholtz walked (3-2) and put runners on the corners with one down for Sweeney.

Ryan Sweeney lined a 2-1 pitch out to right. Aoki caught the ball and threw toward the plate as Lake hustled down the line. Lake slid around Lucroy, touched the plate and tied the game at one. Schierholtz could not advance on the play.

Welington Castillo pulled a 0-1 pitch over the wall in left. Castillo’s eighth longball of the season gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Darwin Barney struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. Estrada threw 93 pitches, 62 for strikes, in seven innings.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill in the seventh with a 3-1 lead … that quickly disappeared. Samardzija issued a leadoff walk to Aramis Ramirez then hung a splitter to Carlos Gomez on a 1-2 pitch. Gomez lined the mistake over the wall in left and tied the game at three. Samardzija struck out Gennett swinging before giving up a single to Caleb Gindl. Samardzija struck out Halton swinging for the second time on the night. Ron Roenicke sent up Juan Francisco to hit for Estrada. Samardzija retired Francisco on a routine fly to center for the third out. Samardzija threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, in seven innings.

The Cubs wasted a chance to take the lead in the eighth. Barney hit a soft liner to Halton for the first out. Dioner Navarro hit for Samardzija and drove a 1-2 pitch from Brandon Kintzler into the gap in left center. Navarro ended up at second with a double and Logan Watkins went into run for him. Starlin Castro grounded a 2-2 pitch back up the middle. Segura stopped the ball but had no play on Castro at first. With runners on the corners and one down, Kintzler caught Junior Lake looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Anthony Rizzo hit a hump-back liner toward short. Segura caught the ball on the bounce and threw out Rizzo to end the inning.

Pedro Strop pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and the game went to the ninth tied at three.

Nate Schierholtz led off the ninth with a double to right center. Jim Henderson struck out Sweeney on three pitches and retired Castillo on a grounder to third. Luis Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning (3-2 pitch).

Justin Grimm took the hill for the ninth, did not get the call on a 2-1 pitch to Ramirez and issued a leadoff walk to Aramis Ramirez (3-2 pitch). Jeff Bianchi ran for Ramirez and advanced to second when Carlos Gomez ripped a 1-1 pitch into center. Scooter Gennett bunted a 0-2 pitch back toward the mound. Grimm bobbled the ball, then threw late and low to first. Rizzo kept the ball from skipping past him but the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs. With the infield in and the outfield halfway, Grimm jammed Gindl with a 2-0 pitch and he popped out to Castro. Roenicke sent up Logan Schafer to hit for Sean Halton.

Logan Schafer got the bunt down on a 1-1 pitch and squeezed in Bianchi with the winning run … game over.

Chris Rusin faces Tyler Thornburg on Wednesday night in game three at Miller Park.

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  • SuzyS

    Couple of things:

    1) A link of how important defensive alignments could be….an absolutely fascinating read !!! :http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4689239-74/pirates-defensive-season#axzz2f4BnFVMH

    2) Almost missed Bruce Miles Tweet that the Cubs were going to try converting Vitters to LF.

    That answers a question I had in my mind as to how the Cubs were going to handle having 3 possible 3rd base candidates…Vitters/Olt/Villanueva at AAA next season….and getting them enough ABs.

    So, depending on how ST goes…Vitters might break camp as a backup/platoon LF/3B.

    If Olt rights his ship…I think he opens at AAA 3B and proves he can hit…thru JUNE. I see him as possibly a June call-up to take over 3B for good. If he falters, Villanueva will move into his spot at AAA ready to take over full-time 3B by September call ups.

    If both Olt and Villanueva are having good seasons next year…3rd base is a premium, hard to fill position…one of them will be included as part of a trade for either an Ace pitcher or good catching prospect.

    There’s lots of moving parts here…and anything can happen…but finally, the Cubs will have some good options at 3B in 2014!

    • TheWrongGuy

      I agree Suzy about Vitters, except also it has been mentioned that Vitters has worked on first base as well. Also I believe Olt has some experience there as well. I think that makes good options for 2014 CUBS against the tougher lefty pitchers. My opinion of course.

      • SuzyS

        Contrary to some wet noodle reports,
        If you type an original post, I assume it to be “your opinion” as opposed to accepted facts. Forget about the wet noodles and drop the “my opinion of course”, disclaimers.
        It’s from the Department of the Redundancy Department.

        The only thing about Vitters is that he seems to be slow getting out of the gate each season…and that means Cubs management,(Sveum), must be committed to giving Vitters enough AB’s to get comfortable enough to be effective.
        In Vitters case, I wonder if Sveum will show enough patience.

        • TheWrongGuy

          Understood. Some folks ask where did you those facts from… bla bla bla

          I agree and don’t believe Sveum will give Vitters enough at bats. Probably wont give Olt much either. Sveum seems to be a produce for me or kiss-up to get your playing time for me type manager. If you don’t see ya back in AAA.

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree with Suzy, no need to state it is your opinion, of course that is just…..never mind.

    • Tony_Hall

      Thanks for the link, GREAT ARTICLE!!!!

      And a must read especially for those that dislike modern sabermetrics and have the attittude of “…sticking your head in the sand and just say, ‘It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t count. It doesn’t make sense.” But let’s read the whole quote.

      “Hurdle is a product of 20th century baseball thought. To earn another job in the 21st century, he knew he had to embrace new-age information. He saw how the game was trending toward a greater acceptance of sabermetrics. He spent time on websites like Fangraphs.com, and he took a job as an MLB analyst where he was exposed to even more cutting-edge information.
      “It was definitely a transformation in understanding the game. It has been for me for the last 10 years, especially the last five years,” Hurdle said. “You have to get involved in the information. You’ve got to read. You’ve got to study. You can’t just stick your head in the sand and just say, ‘It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t count. It doesn’t make sense.’ ”

    • Tony_Hall

      I believe they are hoping to figure out Olt this off season and believe his concussion that led to his vision issues will be fully healed and he comes into ST with a clear head and is back to the Olt of 2012. If this happens, I can see them starting him at 3B out of ST. If he struggles in ST, he goes to Iowa. I also don’t expect them to say this out loud that this is possible, but are going to let his play to the talking.

      3B
      Majors – Olt
      AAA – Villanueva
      AA – Bryant

      That is pretty deep and actually could end up being 3 starters in a year for us at the major league level at 3 of these 4 positions: 2B, 3B, LF or RF.

      • cubtex

        highly unlikely Olt will make the team out of ST even if he crushes the ball after this past year in AAA.

        • Tony_Hall

          I agree it is unlikely, and you won’t hear anyone say it from the Cubs, but if he has a ST that makes you say this guy is ready, then it is possible. It’s not like this guy hasn’t been on a major league roster before, so this would be his 1st call up.

          • cubtex

            yea. it’s just that his year was so bad that he will start in AAA until he has some success there first.

          • Tony_Hall

            He only has to be better than Valbuena and Murphy to make the team…..now you have to agree that shouldn’t be too hard.

            Keep in mind that they have more depth at 3B and don’t have to take is slow with Olt like he is the savior to the team. If he fails, they just include him in a trade to sweeten a pot, kind of how the Cubs got him.

          • cubtex

            He could outplay both Valbuena and Murphy in ST but that doesn’t erase his AAA season this year. I still think they will start him in AAA next year no matter what and if he starts out well there they will bring him up fairly quickly.

          • SuzyS

            Regarding Olt, I’m in agreement with you, Cubtex. If ALL goes well with him at the beginning of the season…I believe a June call up would probably be reasonable.

    • Sonate

      Thanks for the link Suzy. A very interesting article. But beyond their shifts, good old fashioned luck (and perhaps their bullpen) has helped the Pirates even more. Their record is 87-64, but they’ve only scored 41 more runs than their opponents. That implies a record of 81-70 — good enough for 4th place.