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Cubs recap: Shark bounces back

Cubs recap: Shark bounces back

Well it looks like Jeff Samardzija may have good reason for remaining calm after stinking up the joint in his last start. Shark had said he had a pretty good handle on why he was struggling of late. Maybe he was on to something.

 On the mound

Samardzjia was terrific tonight, as he scattered 4 hits over 7 innings while setting a career-high in punch-outs with 11.

His splitter was dancing and he didn’t seem to lose anything late as he got Jason Heyward swinging during strike out number 10 of the evening.

At the plate

 Luis Valbuena delivered the big blow doubling in 3 in the seventh to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Valbuena has been a nice addition to the line up and has had some big hits since his call up. He now has 13 RBI.

It also appears he will get a long look as the Cubs announced Ian Stewart will undergo surgery.

Valbuena even managed to outshine the wonder boy Anthony Rizzo, who homered in the fourth to give the Cubs the lead and give the rookie his second since his call-up.

 The lowdown

The Cubs are starting to play some good baseball again. Whether you want them to compete for draft picks rather than wins is a valid point, but it is refreshing to see some competitiveness from this club.

It was also a huge start and statement game from Samardzija. He needed a game like this for his confidence and maybe now many will realize he may have needed to just make some adjustments.

Filed under: Game Recap

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  • I have had a hard time articulating why I like Darwin Barney so much. He's not ever going to be a great hitter...but, holy hell, he made a couple of nice plays in the field tonight. If only one of those gets through (it could be argued that both could have), you've got two runners on (Bourne followed up with another infield hit) with one out in the 8th. He saved some considerable pressure on our bullpen with his defense tonight.

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    In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Sinister, Barney is real solid ballplayer. Maybe we've been spoiled by having the likes of Ryno and Mark DeRosa manning 2b for us over the years but Barney is a great defensive 2b and a really intelligent heads up ballplayer and those kind of guys go a long way with Theo and Co, you can't teach his intangibles and he's been hitting better than last year, unfortunately he's not Dustin Pedroia

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    They mentioned the other day that Barney has not had an error in quite some time. I know that Sandberg had a streak of 90+ games in the late 80's or very early 90's. I wonder how close Barney is to reaching that level.

    There are times where I actually believe Barney to be better defensively than Sandberg, though that is maybe taking it a bit far. As Cubs fans, we were very spoiled to have a solid defensive 2B who also could hit for average and for some power in Sandberg. In many ways, that has spoiled some decent players who have been here since.

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    In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    If the All Star game is the mid point , it's fast approaching 80 plus when was his last error last year? It's almost sacreligious to say that anyone is better than Ryno but you maybe right

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    By the way guys, nice game by Shark tonight..this guy wants to be a great starter and I really think he and T Wood are gonna be around here for a long time....Rizzo is my new favorite Cub..I love this kid

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I feel like if we could find 1-2 more young impact power arms for the rotation to go with Wood, Shark, and volstad Wed be in a good shape. Whether that comes from within (Mcnutt, Maples, Ben Wells, Underwood, Pierce Johnson, all have potential) or from outside trades remains to be seen. But at least we have 3 young arms in the rotation by years end who figure to stay there.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Marcel, you gotta believe Theo and Co are gonna get at least 2-3 arms into the mix at the deadline..at least then once the Cubs get closer you supplement them with a top tier free agent arm

  • Trading Stewart for Valbuena has been the difference in at least a few ball games this past month, and it just goes to show the importance of improving the production at key positions. I mean, it's not like Valbuena's been an All-Star. It's just that he's been clutch. I think he has 13 RBIs already, which is a great pace for a guy who's hit No. 8 quite a bit.

  • In reply to Taft:

    You are right about that. You look at Valbuena's average, which I think is still around .230, but he seems to get a big hit in every game. He absolutely has been clutch. His defense leaves a bit to be desired, but I think he has a good future as a role player (provided the Cubs do find a long-term answer at third base).

  • In reply to Taft:

    Getting the 3 sub .200 hitters in Stewart, Byrd & Soto has been huge for the offense and makes the offense loke somewhat competent with the additions of Rizzo, Valbuena & Clevenger in there. I cringe when I see the stacked righty linup and we are giving the game away when we load up with Ruthian likes of Baker, Johnson, & Mather or add in Campana. Thers some light at the end of the tunnell it seems, hopefully Vitters continues to improve at Triple A & cracks the lineup at somepoint and we can move Valbuena to 2nd and even strengthen the linup some more.

  • Wow...I'm gone for 4 days and they're 4-0. I was ecstatic to see Shark bounce back. We're going to need him over the next few years.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sure you dont wanna take an extended vacation eh John? Lol jk welcome back. Have you seen any highlights since you've been back? Rizzo looks good.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Haha! I'm glad to be home. Being unplugged was great for 2-3 days but I really started to miss it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, you were left in capable hands..but your missed buddy and the Cubs kept us contented in youre absence

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Thanks Luigi!

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    Shark's right should wasn't flying open tonight like it had been. He kept it tucked in, and he repeated his delivery and release point well tonight. He used his fastball to get ahead. He also ditched the curve ball that he had been messing around with, and he threw more splitters.

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    Also like to point out Samardzija didnt just bounce back. Bouncing back would have been like 6ip maybe 2-3er 2 walks 5k kind of start.....no he did more than bounce back he DOMINATED. For a while I really thought I was looking at Josh Johnson a few years back, he was nasty.

    The biggest thing for me was how even when he started tiring(fastball averaged about 93 in the sixth) he comfortably used his secondary pitches to get by. That is the sign of a guy ready to take the next step.

  • Barney's really growing on me. It's too bad Stewart didn't hit. Otherwise, we have the infield covered very well defensively. I don't want to be banned from this website or sent hate mail, but I like Barney better than Sandberg defensively. The only thing Ryno did better was the jump throw from center. Barney actually gets the uniform dirty to stop balls and keep runners from scoring. I liked Ryno's ability to hit a fastball, but he couldn't hit a breaking pitch. I know, I know, it's sacrileges to say that here. Please don't take great offense to that observation.

    Watching Rizzo, I always look for hitter's "out" pitches. Even though it's a limited sample, I think advanced scouts are going to pick up on his over aggressiveness on pitches just outside the zone and even more so, the sweeping sliders away. He's going to have to make adjustments. I think he will but I look for him to go into a tailspin relatively soon. Then he'll have to make an adjustment to the league.

    It's great to see the Cubs win some games. Their intensity has picked up and Rizzo is in the center of this. I'm a little indifferent on getting the top pick for the upcoming draft unless there's a Harper type available. I haven't heard the next Mickey Mantle coming out in a couple years. Then again, I'm not as in tune as most readers on this site with this subject. I believe Jed/Theo/Jason are savvy enough to reload our farm system no matter where they pick, based on their track records.

    Welcome back John! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Greg Shuey:

    Thanks Greg. That's a tall statement on Barney being better defensively than Sandberg. Barney's a fine 2B, but I'm not ready to say he's better than Ryno.

    Next year isn't a strong draft, so I'm not as excited as some are on this site. I certainly won't root for them to lose. I like that they seem to be playing better baseball, even though I've missed it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i wont root for them to lose but i do want the highest draft pick/draft pool/intl free agent spending money as possible. although im not too worried of us losing ground on a top 3 pick because im predicting garza, demp and maholm all to be traded. the guys replacing them probably wont bring as much to the table. i also think lahair, soriano, soto and baker all get traded as well and i dont think their replacements will be at the same level as those players either. i do like what weve got going on in the infield right now. valbuena has been adequate at third, and the rest of the guys i like a lot, but are all young and will have their slumps, yes even rizzo. so the winning right now is definitely somethign to enjoy, but not get used to as the FO makes more and more trades.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Welcome back, John. You've been missed, but hope you got a good rest.

    I really am not as concerned about our WL record and the draft as establishing our "now" players as the future core. These are the players we will build around with all future signings and current minor league players. I would much rather, IOW, win some games BECAUSE of Rizzo, Shark, Wood, and Valbuena, than worry about draft position.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Completely agree.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks cubs1969! It was a nice break, pretty much the fist one I've had and Tom and everyone did a great job.

    These core guys are the keys and I understand the need for more talent. I'd like the Cubs to have a top pick, but I'd have a real hard time watching it happen.

  • In reply to Greg Shuey:

    Barney's defensive war stands at a 2.7. The highest Sandberg ever had was a 2.0. If Barney keeps this pace up, it will be interesting to see where he ends up at the end of the season. He is outplaying every other second basemen. In fact, in overall WAR, the only one ahead of his is Cano. Some guys are having off years but who cares? Barney is slowly proving he is not a filler. He deserves to start.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I thought Barney had two nice plays on Sunday catching pop flies in short right field. Brenly even commented on how much outfield territory both Castro and Barney cover. That can help cover for outfielders with poorer range or let the OFs play a bit deeper.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Thank you for digging that up. I never knew that about Ryno nor even Barney's WAR. Barney can flat out play outstanding defense. I love Orlando Hudson's defense at 2B. Every year I lament how great it'd be to have him man 2B. This is the first year I'm feeling content with our infielders up the middle (of recent memory). Don't go back to Morandini and Gutierrez:o)

    Now, if we could somehow combing Soto's receiving skills with Castillo's arm, and Clevenger's left handed hitting skills, we'd have our catcher for the next 10 years.

  • Have them play good just enough to still get the 4-5 pick in the
    draft. The system still needs some good young arms for the
    future.

  • I do not care if Babe Ruth is in the draft, the Cubs should play to win.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed. The front office may may moves more oriented toward the future but the players on the field should always do what they can to win.

  • I think that in all my years watching the game, the best I have seen around the bag is Frank White. He was truly a marvel at positioning himself on the the turf to routinely take away base hits. Sandberg made it look easy and positioned himself so well that he did not need to dive as routine part of his game. Given the Cubs awful play this year, I have not watched enough games to make an naked eye assessment on how Barney compares. Even so, the advanced metrics that I have seen support the view that he defends the 2B position well.
    As far as his hitting goes, he is pretty awful. No power, little patience but plenty of hustle.
    The Cubs could win a championship with his glove and bat that he is offering in 2012. Of course, not with this lineup, lack of top tier SP and raggedy bullpen, but I will go on record and say that I do not believe he is one of the parts that needs to be upgraded.

  • Barney is good defensively, but to those saying he's better than Sandberg... let's not get carried away here. And the whole "Ryno didn't dive for balls" thing is one of the sillier criticisms of any HOF player I've ever heard.

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