Rain, Reds prevent Samardzija from earning first ‘W’ in 3-2 Cubs loss
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Sports Reporter April 29, 2014 11:00PM
Updated: April 29, 2014 11:43PM
CINCINNATI – Not even the rain could save Jeff Samardzija on Tuesday in Cincinnati.
The toughest-luck pitcher in the Cubs’ rotation through the first month of the season, Samardzija got tagged with another loss despite battling through a rough night – this time 3-2 when three rain delays failed to wipe out the game.
Not to mention a lineup that had even less impact on the game than the rain.
Samardzija remains winless six starts into the season despite a 1.98 ERA.
Overall, he’s gone 12 consecutive starts without a victory, dating to last season – and has trouble remembering when he last won a game (Aug. 24 in San Diego).
“I don’t really pay too much attention to that,” said Samardzija, who has a 3.79 ERA during the winless streak. “Win-loss record, you take it with a grain of salt sometimes. And other times it can represent some things that are going on.
“I couldn’t tell you the time [I last won]. But I’m just looking forward to the next time.”
Even as he fought through command and umpire issues, Samardzija took a 2-1 lead into the second rain delay of the night, at the end of the fourth inning.
But when play resumed after a 15-minute delay for that storm, he returned to the mound and allowed Billy Hamilton’s first career home run leading off the fifth to tie the game.
He also walked Hamilton once and Joey Votto three times as he worked through two rain delays and plate umpire Alan Porter’s strike zone – which was the source of manager Rick Renteria’s vocal displeasure that eventually got him thrown out of the game in the sixth inning.
“You can’t question balls and strikes, obviously. That’s what I was doing,” said Renteria, who sidestepped a question about whether that was part of Samardzija’s command issues.
“I think he threw the ball the way he wanted to,” Renteria said. “He kept the ball down, tried to stay on both sides of the plate. ... He did a pretty good job.”
After getting the first two batters of the sixth, Samardzija allowed a base hit that right-fielder Ryan Kalish turned into a triple with a poor route that allowed the ball to scoot past him.
Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey followed with a single for the lead as the third storm cell of the night hit. And when Hamilton followed with his second infield single of the game, Renteria called to the bullpen, and umpires called for the tarp.
After a 1-hour, 11-minute, delay for that one, the game resumed while it was still raining, and the Cubs managed just three singles and a walk the rest of the way.
Samardzija (0-3) also has been shut out twice and had leads blown by the bullpen in two other starts.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Samardzija is the first major league pitcher in at least 100 years to start the season with five consecutive games in which he pitched at least seven innings, allowed two runs or fewer and failed to record a win.
— The loss assured the Cubs will finish April without a series win. They haven’t won a series since early last September.
— Jake Arrieta (shoulder), who had his anticipated season debut this week pushed back because of Monday’s rainout, will start Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals, Renteria said.
— In a season when ejections are down across baseball, Renteria already has two in his first month as a big-league manager.
— The game was delayed 19 minutes before it started, for a total of 1:45 in delays.