Cubs routed by Twins as Jeff Samardzija struggles
BY JON KRAWCZYNSKI Associated Press June 9, 2012 4:26PM
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija heads to the dugout after he was pulled in the fourth inning where he gave up five runs to the Minnesota Twins in a baseball game, Saturday, June 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Updated: June 9, 2012 9:06PM
MINNEAPOLIS — Losing has been a part of the Chicago Cubs culture for the majority of its 136 years of existence.
Manager Dale Sveum is getting his first taste of it, and he doesn’t like it one bit.
Jeff Samardzija gave up eight runs in just 3 2-3 innings of an 11-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, the Cubs’ 20th loss in their past 24 games.
“It’s getting a little boring now,” said Sveum, who was hired by new team president Theo Epstein in the offseason to lead the team. “Losing is, you can only take so much of it. The consistency of it now is getting a little out of hand, that’s for sure.”
Samardzija (5-4) only had one strikeout and threw two wild pitches to tie his shortest outing of the season and snap a string of eight straight starts with three runs allowed or fewer. The hard-throwing right-hander couldn’t find his splitter on Saturday, and he hit the showers before the Twins finished a six-run fourth inning that gave them an 8-0 lead.
“Everyone’s not too stoked about what’s going on right now,” Samardzija said. “We just need to keep working. I know personally I’ve got a lot to work on to help this team win.”
Alfonso Soriano continued his power surge, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his 12th long ball in the past 24 games. But by then it was far too late.
Trevor Plouffe had a double, a homer and four RBIs and Scott Diamond (5-1) allowed seven hits and struck out five in six scoreless innings for the Twins, who have won nine of their past 11.
One of the few bright spots for the Cubs so far this season had been Samardzija, the 27-year-old who is considered one of the few building blocks for the future on the roster. He was on an impressive string of starts heading into the game and had his fastball humming at 97 mph early on Saturday.
But the splitter failed him time and again, and the Twins hammered him with four doubles in the fourth inning. Plouffe had a two-run double, Denard Span had an RBI double and so did Joe Mauer, who had three hits in his first game back from a sprained right thumb.
“When you can’t put a guy away with two strikes, you’ve got to go to something else,” Samardzija said. “It causes you to work a little more, a few more pitches than you’d like.”
He threw 78 pitches in those 3 2-3 innings before yielding to Casey Coleman.
“Hopefully you’ve got a guy out there that’s going to overpower them and put ‘em away and give us a chance,” Sveum said. “Obviously it got out of hand.”
Reed Johnson added two hits and an RBI for the Cubs, but they were kept on ice by Diamond, the Rule 5 draft choice who has emerged as a front-line starter for the Twins.
Plouffe hit a solo homer in the fifth and Mauer and Josh Willingham drove in runs in the sixth to make it 11-0.
“A loss is a loss, but it makes it a little tougher when you’re taking a beating like that,” Johnson said.
By the time Soriano did go deep, a second-decker to left field off Jeff Gray that made it 11-3, the game was already out of reach.
Samardzija said the blame rests with the players in the clubhouse, not Sveum or any of the coaching staff.
“It’s not on him,” he said. “It’s on our staff. It’s on the guys here in the locker room. We understand that.”
NOTES: Ian Stewart and Darwin Barney added two hits each for the Cubs. ... The Cubs are 2-13 against left-handed starters this season. ... Willingham extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the first inning. ... The Twins send LHP Francisco Liriano (1-6, 6.46 ERA) to the mound on Sunday for the series finale against RHP Ryan Dempster (1-3, 2.59). Liriano has pitched well since rejoining the rotation two starts ago, going 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Dempster has probably been Chicago’s most reliable starter, holding opponents to a .212 batting average. He pitched seven shutout innings in a win over Milwaukee in his last start.