Samardzija still winless, still auditioning as Yankees top Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter May 21, 2014 10:47PM
Jeff Samardzija lowered his major-league-leading ERA to 1.46 with seven scoreless innings Wednesday but remains winless since Aug. 24. His 2014 starts:
March 31 at Pittsburgh (ND) Shuts out Pirates for seven; Cubs shut out for 10
April 5 vs. Philadelphia (L) 7 IP, 2 runs, but Cubs get shut out again
April 11 at St. Louis (ND) 7 IP, 1 run; Veras blows 3-1 lead in ninth
April 18 vs. Cincinnati (L) Allows only one ER, but D gives up two
April 23 vs. Arizona (ND) Bullpen blows 5-2 lead in ninth
April 29 at Cincinnati (L) Three rain delays, little support in 3-2 loss
May 5 vs. White Sox (ND) 9 IP, 0 ER; Sox get unearned run in 1st, win in 12th
May 10 at Atlanta (ND) 6 scoreless IP; Cubs get shut out
May 16 vs. Milwaukee (L) 3 Cubs errors, 2 unearned runs, 4-3 loss
Wednesday vs. Yankees (ND) 7 scoreless IP; Rondon blows 2-0 lead in ninth
Updated: June 24, 2014 7:45AM
Jeff Samardzija doesn’t have to get mad. He probably just needs to get out.
And maybe that’s why he has been able to keep his cool as he heads into Memorial Day without a victory despite what might be the best pitching in baseball by a starter this season.
The Cubs wasted another dominant start by Samardzija on Wednesday, when he held the New York Yankees to four hits in seven scoreless innings, only to watch teammates blow a 2-0 ninth-inning lead in a game the Yankees won 4-2 in 13 innings.
‘‘We’re not wasting anything,’’ said Samardzija, who worked against a pitching-short team that sources say is sizing up Samardzija for a rotation spot, whether it can get him in trade this July or is forced to wait until he becomes a free agent after next season.
‘‘I think with modern technology, every game pretty much gets seen and watched,’’ he added. ‘‘I don’t think it’s any secret what I’m doing. I can get better, and I’m doing some things out there that are good, and you look to keep building on that.’’
Modern technology? As in people in the game being aware of how he’s performing?
‘‘Bingo,’’ he said.
For now, he auditions with stellar performances against would-be suitors such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Yankees while living with the almost-impossible fact he’s winless despite the best ERA in the majors (1.46).
Samardzija has gone 16 consecutive starts without a win dating to Aug. 24, and the Cubs are 1-9 in his starts this year alone.
Maybe the most amazing part of it is that he’s the only pitcher in the last-place Cubs’ rotation who has a losing record (0-4).
‘‘It’s crazy,’’ said reliever Jose Veras, who pitched an ugly 13th to lose it.
‘‘I feel terrible,’’ said second baseman Darwin Barney, whose ninth-inning error allowed the tying run to score. ‘‘The guy went seven scoreless again. He’s the best pitcher in the league right now — American League, National League, Japanese League, it doesn’t matter. . . . We’re trying hard. Maybe we’re trying too hard for him.’’
It’s not likely to matter by August, when Samardzija is expected to be pitching for somebody else and when scoreless pitching performances should have playoff implications.
Until then, he’ll count on ‘‘modern technology’’ and a robust market of buyers in July to get him through.
And he’ll keep working on driving up his value, if not driving down an ERA that is just 0.67 in four May starts.
The way he talked about watching the Yankees in two series this season, don’t be surprised if he tried to stow away on their charter bus on the way out of Wrigleyville.
‘‘It’s really nice to see how they run things, the players and how they play,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a certain method to their madness with the guys they pick and the guys they decide to put in pinstripes.
‘‘All their guys are professionals. They come out and they play every day, and as you saw today, they’ll play 13, 14 innings, and they’re professionals. In this game, that’s what you need, guys that come out every day and do their job.’’