Jeff Samardzija will be shut down after start Saturday
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com September 7, 2012 11:30PM
Alfonso Soriano hits a two-run single in the seventh inning. The Cubs, who won 12-2, were helped by seven Pirates errors. | Keith Srakocic~AP
CUBS AT PIRATES
The facts: 6:05, CSN, 720-AM.
The starters: Jeff Samardzija (8-13, 3.91 ERA) vs. James McDonald (12-7, 3.90).
Updated: October 9, 2012 3:09PM
PITTSBURGH — Cub fans, say hello to your pitching ace the rest of the season: Travis Wood.
With Jeff Samardzija’s last start of the season coming Saturday, Wood’s throttling of the error-prone Pittsburgh Pirates in Friday’s 12-2 victory puts him at the head of a mostly unrecognizable rotation for the final 23 games of the season.
At least until Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Chris Rusin or just-acquired Jason Berken (waiver claim) unseat him.
For a team struggling to avoid breaking the franchise mark for losses (103), it’s come to this for the Cubs, who also escaped an injury scare that might have depleted their ranks further when outfield prospect Brett Jackson crumpled to the ground after crashing into the fence on a highlight-reel catch in the sixth inning.
Jackson’s bruised knee could be the least of the Cubs’ bumps and bruises down the stretch, Friday’s rare road win notwithstanding, after the team announced Samardzija’s career-high 1652/3 innings (plus Saturday) will be enough for his first year as a starter.
‘‘He really did everything we imagined and even more, actually,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘We all witnessed the gradual climb he made and the adjustments he had to make, and he did it all. Obviously he didn’t go backwards; he got stronger. … We want that guy to be our one or two guy … going forward. We want him to be able to be healthy, strong and be able to pitch into October.’’
Samardzija (2.64 ERA in 12 starts since a rough June) doesn’t like the decision.
‘‘It’s going to be tough watching. It’s not something I’m accustomed to,’’ said Samardzija, who’d hoped the Cubs’ need for pitching would persuade the club to scrap their long-held plans to limit him. ‘‘But I’ve given everything I’ve had every start,’’ he said, ‘‘and you have to respect what they’re planning on doing, and what their plans are for the organization and the team.’’