Jeff Samardzija in Cubs’ latest spat in loss to Brewers
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter September 17, 2013 10:23PM
Updated: September 18, 2013 11:29AM
MILWAUKEE — The Cubs downplayed the back-to-back nights of dugout dust-ups between pitchers and field staff.
But the made-for-TV outbursts during losses to the lowly Milwaukee Brewers don’t look good for a team trying to sell culture change as it closes in on 90 losses for the third consecutive year — with no clear indication of when the turnaround might begin.
In a vacuum, Jeff Samardzija’s shouting match with infield coach David Bell — over what both said was positioning on Nori Aoki’s triple past first baseman Anthony Rizzo — was no-big-deal, heat-of-the-moment stuff in a close game the Cubs eventually lost 4-3 in the ninth inning.
‘‘About a 1,’’ Samardzija said when asked to compare it, on a 1-10 scale, with other incidents he’s seen in his Cubs career.
But on the heels of manager Dale Sveum’s yelling, finger-pointing exchange with pitcher Edwin Jackson on Monday night, it takes on the context of growing frustration in a painful rebuilding process.
‘‘Just competitive dudes, man, playing to win a game,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘But it’s good to see. People care. Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but nobody’s happy about it. We’re out here scraping and clawing and doing everything we can to win a ballgame, and Bellie is the epitome of that.
‘‘He cares. Everybody on this team cares.’’
Samardzija pitched seven innings and left with a no-decision after allowing a tying two-run homer to Carlos Gomez in the seventh. But he did finish the game with his first career 200-inning season (201 2/3) and 203 strikeouts.
‘‘I love everything about this guy,’’ Bell said, shrugging off the incident, ‘‘the way he competes and the way he cares and the intensity. It’s going to make him a great pitcher for a long time. And as far as what happened tonight, some of the best teams I’ve ever been on and the best players I’ve ever been around, this stuff happens. Quite often. Unfortunately.
‘‘In the heat of the moment when you’re competing like he does, and we all do, I think thing like this are going to happen. But absolutely, with the best teams and the best players, seems to happen more.’’