Samardzija Struggles Royally, Jackson Surprises Kansas City Late – Cubs 6, Royals 5

Spring Training Game Sixteen – Cubs 6, Royals 5

WP – Marcos Mateo (1-0) LP – Tim Collins (0-2, BS 2) Save – Jeffrey Lorick (1)

wflag-pub2014The Cubs were shutout for the first seven innings of Saturday’s game in Surprise and managed only one hit. But that was before Brett Jackson drove in five runs in the last two innings and led the Cubs to a come from behind Cactus League win.

Brett Jackson hit a three-run homer, his first of the spring in the eighth then singled in the go ahead runs in the ninth inning. Jackson went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI. The home run was hit off of Jon Rauch and the two-run single was against lefty Tim Collins on a 3-2 pitch.

While one Opening Day starter dominated, the other Opening Day starter had a rough outing and was lifted before he could complete four innings on Saturday afternoon. Jeff Samardzija struggled with his command throughout his shortened outing. Samardzija gave up four runs on seven hits with three walks and only one strikeout. Samardzija uncorked two wild pitches and threw 87 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, 49 for strikes.

Jarod Dyson and Johnny Giavotella hit home runs off of Samardzija that accounted for three of the four runs he allowed Saturday afternoon.

James Shields dominated the Cubs for six innings. Shields allowed one infield single over six innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Shields struck out four of the first six batters he faced and six of the first eight. Shields struck out two batters in each of the first five innings. And Shields retired 18 of the 19 batters he faced while needing only 75 pitches, 49 for strikes, to complete six frames.

The Cubs’ offense was non-existent until the eighth inning. Brett Jackson had a big game while Chris Valaika (1-for-3 with a run scored), John Baker (1-for-1 with a double and a run scored) and Marco Hernandez (1-for-1 with a RBI and a run scored) also collected hits. Marco Hernandez was the only Cubs’ player not named Brett Jackson to drive in a run. The Cubs managed six runs on seven hits with two walks while striking out 13 times.

With Brandon Hyde calling the shots, the Cubs improved to 8-8 in the Cactus League with Saturday’s win in Surprise.

Scoring Plays

Jarod Dyson led off the bottom of the first with a long home run off of Jeff Samardzija. Dyson launched a 1-1 pitch over the Cubs’ pen beyond the right field wall. Johnny Giavotella ripped a single into center. Eric Hosmer battled Samardzija before rolling into a 4-6-3 double play. Samardzija struck out Billy Butler swinging to end the inning.

The Royals added to their spring lead in the third. Samardzija issued a one out walk to Jarod Dyson. Dyson then swiped second with Giavotella at the plate. Johnny Giavotella gave the Royals a comfortable 3-0 lead with a homer to left. Eric Hosmer followed with a single to center (3-1 pitch). Billy Butler blooped a single into center. Samardzija retired Alex Gordon on a flyout to center before walking Salvador Perez to load the bases with two down. Mike Moustakas flied out to center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. Samardzija needed 76 pitches, 45 for strikes, to record nine outs on Saturday afternoon.

The Royals tacked on to their lead fourth and knocked Jeff Samardzija out of the game. Justin Maxwell reached on a bloop single to right to start the inning. Ned Yost called for a hit and run. Jason Donald tapped back to Samardzija. Maxwell advanced to second as Donald was thrown out at first base. Samardzija uncorked his second wild pitch of the game with Dyson at the plate that allowed Maxwell to advance to third. Dyson walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Giavotella launched a 1-0 pitch to deep left. Justin Ruggiano made a leaping catch at the wall that stole an extra base hit from Giavotella. Maxwell tagged and scored, 4-0 Kansas City. Brandon Hyde went to his pen for Hunter Cervenka. Eric Hosmer grounded out to third to end the inning.

The game remained 4-0 Royals until the eighth inning.

Chris Valaika singled to center with one down in the eighth, the Cubs first clean hit of the game. Josh Vitters reached on an error by Pedro Ciriaco at short. And Jon Rauch was in trouble. Brett Jackson lined a home run over the wall in right and made it a 4-3 ballgame. Christian Villanueva grounded out to third and Junior Lake flied out to center to end the inning.

Marcos Mateo took the hill in the bottom of the eighth. And the Royals got one of the runs right back. Brian Fletcher led off the eighth with a home run to right … 5-3 Royals. Mateo struck out Adam Moore, retired Brian Bocock on a grounder to second and struck out Carlos Peguero swinging to end the inning.

Tim Collins took over for the Royals in the ninth. John Baker led off the ninth with a double to left. Wes Darvill, up for the day from minor league camp, singled to right. With runners on the corners and no outs, Rubi Silva struck out swinging. Silva also spent the day with the big league team. Mike Olt struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) for the second out. Marco Hernandez, up for the day as well from minor league camp, singled to right center. John Baker scored, 5-4 Royals. Josh Vitters walked to load the bases with two down. Brett Jackson worked a full count against the southpaw Collins before ripping a single into center. Darvill and Hernandez scored, 6-5 Cubs. Ned Yost went to his pen for Corey Wade. Wade retired Villanueva on a foul out to the catcher to end the inning.

Pitching

Jeff Samardzija had a bad day. Samardzija had little to no command, ran up his pitch count and left the game in the fourth inning. Samardzija was scheduled to throw five innings or 85 pitches … and he hit his pitch count 1 1/3 innings short of his target. Samardzija walked three batters, uncorked two wild pitches with one sailing over the head of Welington Castillo. Samardzija allowed four runs on seven hits, two of them left the yard, and he recorded only one strikeout.

Pedro Strop and Wesley Wright put together good performances. Strop surrendered a hit and struck out a batter in his inning of work. Wright retired all three batters he faced.

Marcos Mateo in his first game back with the organization served up a solo home run in the eighth. Jeffrey Lorick, up for the day from minor league camp, picked up the save after being the beneficiary of Brett Eibner running through Dale Sveum’s stop sign. Junior Lake threw to Marco Hernandez who threw to John Baker to cut Eibner down at the plate to end the game.

Sunday is the second of three consecutive split squad days for the Cubs. Travis Wood takes on Justin Masterson and the Indians in Mesa while the other half of the roster wraps up the two-game weekend series against the Mets in Las Vegas. Chris Rusin is scheduled to face hard-throwing Jenrry Mejia.

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