April 16, 2014
Jeff Samardzija’s All-Star break came early. Too early for the big right-hander and the Cubs, who got routed in Samardzija’s worst start of the year, 13-2 by the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
It was the most runs the Cubs have allowed this season and their biggest loss margin of the year.
“You can’t really sugarcoat it too much,” said the Cubs’ Opening Day starter, who gave up nine runs, including seven on four home runs by Josh Hamilton (two), Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols. “They kicked my ass today and that’s just the way it goes. It’s a resilient game. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes and go from there.”
Samardzija (5-9) failed to pitch five innings for the first time this season as his ERA jumped more than a half a point to 4.06 – the first time this season it’s been over 4.00.
“I’ve thrown worse games. That’s the thing,” said Samardzija, who pointed to command issues probably related to his mechanics. “I’ve had worse stuff out there. To sit and be totally down isn’t the case. It’s more about pitch sequence and obviously getting ahead in the count.
“It’s one of those games that open your eyes up and you go back to the drawing board and make some changes and get better.”
Like last year, Samardzija has struggled since early June. Through his first 11 starts this season, he had a 2.85 ERA. In his last eight: 5.79.
Both Samardzija and manager Dale Sveum pointed to the similar stretch, and Sveum noted how strong Samardzija finished last year (2.58 in 11 second-half starts).
He has eight days off before his next scheduled start, in the second-half opener, July 19 in Colorado.
“This kind of happened to me last year heading up to the break and I came out the second half of the season with my pants on fire,” he said. “I’m excited to take a deep breath the next couple days and really use the All-Star break to get some good work in and come out guns blazing on that Friday in Colorado.”
The Cubs were in a 5-0 hole six batters into the game on this night after Samardzija allowed the first four guys to reach, including a three-run homer by Josh Hamilton – the first of two off Samardzija for the former American League MVP.
Two batters later, Mark Trumbo hit a solo shot for the quick 5-0 lead.
Samardzija settled down for more than three innings after that, retiring 11 of 13 and seven straight before the Angels unloaded on him again in the fifth.
Mike Trout singles, Albert Pujols homered, and Hamilton followed with that second homer before Samardzija got an out in the fifth. When Trumbo doubled to the left-center wall with one out, Samardzija was done.