Samardzija the latest to lose despite effort
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 24, 2013 10:50PM
The Cubs have the second-best performing starting rotation in baseball — and the third-worst
record. MLB’s top five starting staffs, with quality starts and
starters’ win-loss records:
GS QS ERA W-L
St. Louis 21 15 2.35 13-4
CUBS 20 12 2.97 3-11
Atlanta 21 13 2.97 10-5
Cincinnati 22 16* 2.99 7-2
Boston 21 10 3.14 11-4
Note: Cubs’ rotation ERA is 2.96783; Atlanta’s, 2.96859
Updated: April 24, 2013 11:37PM
CINCINNATI — Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija wore a Band-Aid on his right index finger after an impressive start Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds.
The start wasn’t enough to beat the defending division champs, and the Band-Aid wasn’t nearly enough to fix what’s wrong with the Cubs.
But it might as well have told the story of a season with more than five months to play, from the Band-Aid roster solutions that went into assembling this team to fixing early problems with Samardzija’s finger.
On this day it was an inability to score even one run that sent Samardzija and the Cubs to a 1-0 defeat and prevented them from winning the series.
The lineup deficit cost the Cubs the series, even though they cleaned up a sloppy fielding effort that cost them a series in Milwaukee. Before that came two weeks of bullpen breakdowns.
“We played some really good teams here in the last few weeks,” Samardzija said of six consecutive winless series against the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers (twice), San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Reds. “And we’re playing good against them. We’re right there. We need to stay positive and understand that and finish this month strong and go into May with our heads high and ready to make a run into the summer.
“You can’t sit here and say we need to do this and need to do that. We need to look at what went well and build on it.”
That would be one thing: Starting pitching.
The Cubs’ starting staff has a 2.97 ERA after Samardzija pitched six innings. He missed a scoreless outing by the margin of Todd Frazier’s mammoth solo homer to center with two outs in the sixth.
The Cubs’ starting staff is second only to the St. Louis Cardinals’ in the major leagues. The Cubs’ 12 quality starts also rank among the MLB leaders.
But the rest of the team has performed so poorly that the rotation is a combined 3-11.
“We’re just having trouble hitting the outfield grass when we’re getting people on base,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of a lineup that went 0-for-5 with men in scoring position — but also 5-for-24 without men in scoring position.
Maybe some of it will change with the schedule, which softens significantly with four games at the Miami Marlins starting Thursday, followed by four more at home against the San Diego Padres. Those are the only two teams in the majors with worse records than the Cubs.
“We’re out here doing our jobs, so it’s not frustrating,” said Samardzija (1-4), who suffered his fourth consecutive loss despite a 3.03 ERA.
Samardzija dealt with a cut from the moment he took leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo’s bouncer off his fingertip trying to bare-hand it. Despite the bleeding, umpire Jordan Baker allowed him to keep pitching, and Samardzija rushed off the mound between innings to have the cut treated with “Super Glue.”
“Everything’s fine,” Samardzija said. “It just got compressed a little bit, a little baby cut. Kudos to [the umps] for letting me pitch.
“[The challenge] was more just the liquid coming out of it than anything else. Everything physically was fine. It was more aesthetic than anything else.”
It’s hard to say the same thing about the rest of the team.
“It’s the first month of the season. People are getting their feet under them,” Samardzija said. “You’ve got to have faith in your team.”