7/24 Holiday greetings
Jeff Samardzija had his best start on Monday when he gave up one hit over eight innings in the Cubs’ win over the Pirates.
“That was, no doubt, the best stuff he’s had,” Dale Sveum said of Samardzija, in his first full season as a starter. “He had his two-seamer working, kept the ball down, elevated when he wanted, had his split working, his slider, could get back in the count with his slider. I don’t think I’m on his Christmas list right now.”
That’s because Samardzija wasn’t happy about being pulled after he had thrown 99 pitches, and didn’t get the chance for a complete game.
“Obviously, I would’ve sent him back out there [for the ninth] if he had covered first base,” Sveum said.
The Pirates’ only hit came with one out in the fourth, when Andrew McCutchen hit a weak grounder toward second. First baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball, and Samardzija was late getting off the mound to cover at first. McCutchen beat the pitcher to the bag.
“McCutchen is kind of quick, so you can’t hesitate there,” Samardzija said. “I’m sure we’ll have [pitchers fielding practice] pretty early now because of me.”
Samardzija learned from his misstep.
“How [McCutchen] hit it threw me off there for a second,” he said. “He nobbed it and I froze. I’ve talked to Rizzo before — I want him to be aggressive. That’s on me there — he made an aggressive play and I need to be on first there.”
So, is Sveum off Samardzija’s holiday list?
“He’s still on my Christmas list,” Samardzija said. “Just not tonight. The coaches’ job is to look out for the players and the players’ job is to go out and play the game. Everybody’s got emotions and opinions on things.”
— Carrie Muskat