The hype surrounding the fact that Jeff Samardzija hadn't gotten a win in his last 16 starts had reached ridiculous levels a week or two ago. Whether it led to a debate on the importance of the win as a stat, led to another analasys of why Samardzija might try and force his way off the team, or yet another "woe is us" pity party about how the bullpen puckers up tighter than a snare drum on Samardzija starts, the conversation becomes less and less baseball focused and would chock on whatever flotsam and jetsam was handy. It needed to stop. And I'm happy to report, it has stopped, behind his arm AND his bat, Jeff Samardzija led the Cubs to a victory over the team with the best record in the national league- the San Francisco Giants. The Giants actually tagged Shark for a run in the first inning but Nate Schierholtz picked the right time to get his first home run of the year in the third inning. Kung Fu Panda would put the Giants up two with a two run homer of his own. But the Cubs came right back with three of their own, including one on a Jeff Samardzija double to right field. Samardzija would then give the Cubs the lead for good when he scored on Emilio Bonifacio's single. The Cubs would add two more in the 6th thanks to Wellington Castillo and Darwin Barney- who each singled in a run. Then Anthony Rizzo would double in Junior Lake, and Luis V would knock home Rizzo and the scoring would be complete for the night. Any suggestions for dinner?
I'M NOT GONNA WASTE MY TIME ARGUING WITH A MAN WHOSE LINING UP TO BE A HOT LUNCH.
Cannot tell you how happy I am the whole "When will Jeff Samardzija get a win?" conversation is in the rear view mirror. The guy has been aces. He was great today, striking out 10 in 7 ip. And he didn't lose it when the team got down 3-1. Samardzija seems to have taken on an added role to make sure he gets the ball to the 8th inning man at the very least. For him to strike out 10 and still only throw 109 pitches through 7 innings is a very nice job. Everyday Grimmy and the Regular Rimirez kept the Giants at bay……No pun intended.
HOLTZ THE KETCHUP. HOLTZ THE LETTUCE….
Good time for Nate to break out of his season long funk. Two for four with an RBI knock and two valuable runs scored. While I doubt this will turn into a Soriano like hot streak, it was nice to see some production out of a guy who has struggled all year. And who last year was actually fairly good. Hopefully a few more games like this from Nate will bring his numbers to a neighborhood close to respectability. I don't think he's a trade chip. But he can and should be "Useful".
THE PURPLE EVOLUTIONIST
Darwin Barney also had a very strong game and has had a good couple of weeks. While everyone has written Barney off as all field and no hit. And that's mostly true. But Barney is a really good athlete with good hands and should be able to do more positional hitting than he's been doing. And since pitchers like Samardzija are gonna want his glove in the field, he's gonna get more playing time than most Cub fans are going to be happy with.
So the Cubs are above .500 on this road trip. Yes tonight will be about the giant monkey off of Shark's back and what not. But I'm seeing a young team take a next step here. Junior Lake has earned himself playing time and left field. The infield defense is at it its tightest and the pitching has been really really good. The lineup could use a bat, but it always had that problem. Interesting to see how these next two games play out. Tim Hudson takes the mound for the Giants tomorrow against Jake Arrieta. Happy holidays. And onwards.