CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija #29 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on May 16, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477583313
Updated: June 18, 2014 6:17AM
Before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, manager Rick Renteria took exception to the contention that his team hadn’t played well behind starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
“I beg to differ,” he said.
However, the Cubs’ execution in a 4-3 loss at Wrigley Field proved Renteria wrong. The defeat was the direct result of a mistake-ridden effort that left Samardzija searching for his first victory.
By the third inning, the Cubs had committed three errors and allowed one passed ball. That forced Samardzija, who didn’t have his best command, to pitch from behind in the score.
The early errors got Samardzija deep into his pitch count and resulted in his exit after five innings.
“You throw a few extra pitches early, you know you’re going to have to come back and try and save those pitches later in the game,” Samardzija said.
“How the first inning went, I knew I was going to have to come back and attack the zone after that and be a little more aggressive, for sure.”
Samardzija (0-4) is expected to draw interest from a number of contending teams as the trade deadline approaches. Another fruitless start shouldn’t do anything to make one of the best pitchers in baseball dread the idea of leaving the Cubs.
And for his part, he defended his teammates, saying he can pitch better. Samardzija has done everything to try to notch that elusive first victory, allowing three earned runs or fewer in all nine of his starts.
Against the first-place Brewers, he surrendered two earned runs but took the loss after two more runs crossed home as the result of errors. He entered the game with the second-lowest ERA in baseball and left with a still-impressive 1.62 ERA.
“I’m not happy about it,” Samardzija said of his winless season. “It’s not like it just goes unnoticed. Obviously, I want to win. Being a starting pitcher, you have a big say in how the game turns out. If my record isn’t what I want it to be, I need to do a better job.”
Temperature at game time was 38 degrees, but both teams had to play in it, leaving the Cubs with no excuse for the poor fielding that put them down 4-0 after 11/2 innings. Even though the Cubs mustered only one hit in the final six innings, they still could have won.
“When you know you’re playing in [chilly weather], in between innings when you’re throwing the ball, you make sure you understand how much better you’re going to have to grip it,” Renteria said. “You make the adjustments you need to.”
NOTE: Left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to last Saturday, said that the injury to his pitching arm isn’t serious. Rosscup felt discomfort in his shoulder, and X-rays revealed that there is some inflammation and fluid.
He described the injury as being located in the biceps tendon area, though the Cubs are calling it a shoulder injury. Rosscup estimated that he would be out for a week before he could begin “cranking it up.”