Cubs’ inability to turn two, get big hit loom large in loss
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org April 13, 2013 4:19PM
Chicago Cubs' Dioner Navarro hits a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
GIANTS AT CUBS
The facts: 1:20 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Tim Lincecum (1-0, 4.91) vs. Edwin Jackson (0-2, 5.73).
Updated: May 15, 2013 7:11AM
Playing three one-run games against the defending World Series-champion San Francisco Giants might be considered a positive for the rebuilding Cubs.
But it shows how big of a difference the little things can make for winning teams.
The Giants preserved a 3-2 victory Saturday by doing the things the Cubs couldn’t, including turning two key inning-ending double plays. The Cubs turned one double play, though they could have turned four. Consequently, they let two runs score.
Manager Dale Sveum lamented the team’s missed opportunities at the plate. The Cubs went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
‘‘We had a chance to take the lead a couple times before they scored, which could change the game around,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘We didn’t put the ball in play a couple times, and that can be the difference in a game.’’
Right fielder Scott Hairston missed the cutoff man in the seventh inning. He fielded Marco Scutaro’s single, which scored Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, and threw the ball beyond second base. That allowed Gregor Blanco to advance from first to third.
Pablo Sandoval grounded into the Cubs’ lone double play to end the inning without another run scoring. But Sveum didn’t like what he saw.
‘‘Players need to make those plays. That’s the bottom line,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He threw a ball completely over two cutoff men’s heads — not even in the same zip code.’’
The Cubs’ starting pitching hasn’t been a problem. Jeff Samardzija suffered another loss, despite limiting the Giants to two runs in six innings.
‘‘He wasn’t as sharp as his first two outings, but he made some pitches when he had to and got out of jams,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He still only gave up two runs with the wind howling out.’’
Samardzija (1-2) was his own critic, blaming himself for walking Bumgarner in the third, though he was thrown out at second trying to advance on a pitch that almost eluded Castillo.
‘‘That’s two games in a row [walking a pitcher],’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘It’s unacceptable. It’s on me. It’s wasting pitches and wasting outs and making your team work harder. It takes you out of a game in the sixth instead of the seventh or eighth.
‘‘But there are positives and negatives in everything. You assess every start and the pitches you made. I thought I made some good pitches. They did a great job of putting the ball in play. They did a good job of getting some hits, which got me out of rhythm.’’
Samardzija wasn’t the pitcher he was in Pittsburgh on Opening Day, when he allowed two hits in eight innings. And he wasn’t the pitcher he was in Atlanta in his last start, when he struck out a career-high 13 but lasted only 52/3 innings in a 5-1 loss.
But he kept the Cubs in the game.
‘‘A team like that, you have to keep the game close,’’ Samardzija said of the Giants. ‘‘They’ll try to take some things away from you. You need to understand that. They work the count, they make you throw a lot of pitches, they have a game plan and stick with it.’’