7/10 Angels 13, Cubs 2
Jeff Samardzija began the season with an impressive Opening Day victory, holding the Pirates to two hits over eight shutout innings. On Wednesday, he ended the first half with what he called a head scratcher. Josh Hamilton smacked two home runs and drove in five runs, Albert Pujols hit his second homer in as many days, and Mark Trumbo belted his team-leading 20th to power the Angels to a 13-2 romp over Samardzija and the Cubs for a split of the Interleague series.
Samardzija struggled from the beginning. He served up a season-high nine runs, including five in the first inning, over 4 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Samardzija had given up nine earned runs over 35 innings in five starts in May alone.
“Give credit to some really good hitters,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “They get paid a lot of money to hit mistakes and they obviously didn’t miss them tonight.”
“I’ve thrown worst games,” Samardzija said. “I’ve had worst stuff out there. To sit and be totally down isn’t the case. It’s just a little bit more about pitch sequences and getting ahead in the count. I think that’s the big thing for me. When I’m behind in the count, it changes the game a lot. It puts me on my heels and puts them on their toes, and that’s not the way I pitch.”
The Angels piled on with a six-run fifth, sending 12 batters to the plate. It was a struggle for the Cubs, who suffered their most lopsided loss of the season. The Angels recorded 11 extra-base hits for the fourth time in franchise history. They hit the most home runs against Chicago in a game (five) and the most homers in one inning with three in the fifth.
Samardzija’s first half was similiar to last season when he was 6-8 in 17 starts with a 4.71 ERA.
“[Last year] he got out of the gates really well and went into the break struggling a little bit and then the last eight starts he had were awesome,” Sveum said. “I think it’s one of those things now, a little bit of confidence, and trying to do too much when things get out of whack.”
Samardzija’s next start will be the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break on July 19 against the Rockies. That means he gets an extended rest.
“After today, it’s a great thing,” Samardzija said of the time off. “I’ll take all these days and get back to the drawing board. … I’m excited to take a deep breath these next couple days and use the All-Star break to get some work in.”
On the plus side, the Cubs finished the Interleague portion of their schedule 13-7, and the 13 wins were a single-season franchise record.
This loss will sting.
“You can’t really sugar coat it too much,” Samardzija said. “They kicked my ass today and that’s the way it goes. It’s a resilient game, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes and go from there.”
– Carrie Muskat