5/20 Cubs 6, Yankees 1

On Tuesday night, the Cubs became the first team to face Masahiro Tanaka twice in the big leagues. They also are the first to beat the Yankees’ pitcher in 43 regular-season starts between the U.S. and Japan. Rookie Mike Olt drove in three runs, and Emilio Bonifacio and Starlin Castro each added RBI singles to lift the Cubs to a 6-1 Interleague victory over the Yankees and hand Tanaka his first regular-season loss since Aug. 19, 2012.

“We really executed,” Cubs catcher John Baker said. “Me and [Jason] Hammel were joking that Floyd Mayweather may lose now. We beat the Mayweather of baseball today.”

Mayweather, in case you don’t know, is a professional boxer who is unbeaten in 46 fights.

When Chicago faced Tanaka on April 16 at Yankee Stadium, he struck out 10 over eight shutout innings. What were the Cubs looking for this time?

“That split,” manager Rick Renteria said prior to the game Tuesday. “[Hitters] see it as a fastball, and it ends up dropping off the table. Obviously, he’s been a championship pitcher in Japan. There’s no surprise that he has the poise, and obviously, his stuff is really good.”

What the Cubs wanted was to get Tanaka to throw up in the zone.

“That split comes in at the knee or above the knee, lower thigh, and it looks like a really good pitch,” Renteria said. “You have to make him get the ball up. He’s a guy you have to try to force to see if you can make him throw a lot of pitches.”

It worked. Tanaka had gone 42 consecutive starts without a regular-season loss, and this was his first defeat since he was pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The four runs off the right-hander were the most he’s given up this season.

“We watched a lot of video,” Baker said, “and saw him striking out a lot of the best hitters in baseball and making people look foolish, and a lot of us here already had that experience, swinging and laughing and looking in the dugout, like ‘What the heck was that pitch?'”

Tanaka didn’t think the Cubs had an edge.

“I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “I think all my pitches, they went to locations which were easy for the batters to hit.”

Hammel survived a liner off his right hand in the first inning, and is now 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts at Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat


Aloha Folks- Great job for our Cubbies, the strategy my father had spoken to me some time ago about getting to Tanaka early to take him off his game, especially in the first 3 innings before he can settle in, could clearly be seen: A run in the 3rd and another in the 4th to get things going. It is encouraging because this is the second time to see Tanaka this year, so it shows adjustments made on our side. The RISP was better tonight as well as everyone (except for Rizzo and Hammels) getting a hit(s). I also think the bullpen held up well for almost 4 innings. I know there is some talk of Shark and Hammels being traded, I hope they think real hard about this meaning a sweetheart deal for our Cubbies or nothing because Hammels and Shark could really help-mentor the rest of the pitchers. We will see, hope Jeff S. can pick up his first win tomorrow. Mahalo!

Beating Tanaka and the Yankee’s last night should put the Cubs on a high. Not much time, if any to celebrate that victory, but in my mind it was huge.
Olt made a good play, Castro made a couple very good plays. Rizzo two walks, on intentional. Castros bloop RBI single was a huge INS run. Valbuena and Baker really hit Tanaka well.
Hammel getting hit in the hand with a line drive, sucked it up and proved some ole school grit.
That was a team effort last night and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I agree with you both. That was an enjoyable game to view. Isn`t it the first time we`ve won three straight this season? Today`s pitching matchup favors our side, and Jeff S. is far overdue to get some run support. If those two pitchers you cited are indeed trade, I hope it is not until late in the season when contending teams are desperate for help, and are willing to pay dearly for their services. We need to make them pay.

Aloha Jasper and jhosk- agreed we can enjoy it but have to be ready the next day. I felt bad for Jeff S. again, I would be embarrassed a little if I were in the bullpen in regard to the Shark, they should be able to hold a two run lead, I know they cannot do it all the time but this is hard to take. Also, we have an error that leads to an unearned run and only 1-12 RISP, that is terrible when you have 11 hits. Well, there is always next series. Take care. Mahalo!

I do not know where to begin, k.g. I first must say I agree with everything you typed. The Yankees tried to hand this game to us on a silver platter, and we rejected their generosity. I did not see the game in its entirety and am glad for it. At my age, I do not have the luxury of devoting close to 5 hours to a baseball game, which often is comparable to observing grass grow. What stands out to me is seeing Castillo take a fastball right down Broadway for a third strike in extras with men in scoring position and the game on the line, after having just fouled off at least two throws that were much better located. The highest level I reached was high school baseball, and we did have an outstanding undefeated team in my senior year, and I did want to be in that spot Castillo found himself today. In fact I welcomed it. I do not get how he comes up small in that situation and never will. Also, I told you all weeks ago that Veras should stay at AA Tennessee for at least six weeks, meaning he would not have been available today to take his gas can to the mound in that fateful inning in which the Skankees scored two decisive runs. If Shark does not demand to be traded (albeit behind the scenes to the FO), after not just today`s debacle, but what he has accomplished across the entire season, I shall have no respect for the man. What Garza told him in Milwaukee a few weeks ago is true, namely were he, (Jeff S.) with another club in recent history, he would surely have had dozens more wins on his resume. Bottom line, this team does not know how to win. It`s a losing culture. Give me someone to turn it around. Is not that complicated, you would think. But to the Cubs, it`s a quandary. Go figure.

Aloha jhosk and KenlyCub- been listing to the SF Giants game against the Rockies. Matt Cain is sailing along until the 3rd inning and a weird play that he is involved in makes him turn funny and he is taken out with what is now being reported as a “hamstring sprain”, as John Miller & Dave Flemming said not soreness but a sprain. Well, next week our Cubbies come in and I am thinking back to 2010 when they came here to the Bay Area and Mike Fontenot is playing one day on the visiting side, then the next day he is on the home team. Just speculating but what if Jeff S. is asked by the Giants if he could join the rotation and before you know it, does the switch like Fontenot did? I know I was tough on Jeff in regard to his pre-season “talking,” regardless the team and the current culture is really difficult for anyone to grow and flourish and for others on other teams to start speaking be it true or not is not a good thing. The FO needs to nip this in the butt and if that means signing Shark to a good contract for both sides and saying to the fans, we are taking this seriously, then I am all for it. Because at this point, him only being signed to a one year contract, will not get us all the “prized” treasure we need to turn this team around but taking a leap of faith and talking with Jeff and saying we want to build a great pitching staff around you and get the necessary tools in place would go a long way. Just my frustration speaking a little here but really hope for better days ahead for the team and us fans. Take care now. Mahalo!

True guys,this one was tough. Just when you think there is a victory,it gets pulled right out from them. Kudos to J.S. he keeps battling,as of right now one of the top pitchers available, and the Cubs actually have him. What do you do? Being a Irish fan,knowing his workout ethic,wanting to win,he is a top of the line pitcher. Just imagine if he actually had a offense behind him. The question is,is this the type of pitcher the Cubs want to sign in 2016,as briney put it,to put them over the top.I think he might already be here! If he goes to F.A. what does he command? Will the Cubs be willing to pay that for someone they might all ready have? Do they deal him or sign him? Deadline is coming up,once again the highlight of the Cubs season.

Forgive me, Kenly and k.g. and anyone else who believes it is realistic for Jeff S. to sign long term or even one more year with the Cubs. He would need to be out of his mind to do so, in my opinion. I would have no respect for him if he would not covet going to a contender where his excellent performances would actually matter and be appreciated. Come on. His window of opportunity is limited. Is he not 29? His toil and trouble with the Cubs is wasted. He should be pitching for a team with position players who are productive and can actually hit with runners in scoring position and know how to win. Do you follow my drift? He is deserving of that and more than worthy. If we fans are truly concerned about our individual team members, we would want that for Jeff. He`s given us all he`s got, and has been a good soldier, if you will, meaning he has not complained of the lack of support. God knows, he`s had every right to complain.

Aloha jhosk- I agree with you and I was blowing steam because I do not think things will happen fast enough for a Jeff S, to want to stay with the team. You are right, there are too many variables at play right now in order for this team to be competitive including the culture of the organization. My father and I were talking last night after the Cubs win against Tanaka and the Yankees and spoke about teams around the league and what they can accomplish with what they have. Of course one of the teams that we spoke about were the A’s. Many of the folks around the country do not even know who plays for the A’s, not an overpowering offense but fundamentals are stressed: defense-including pitchers being able to field, hitting-including pitchers and all players being able to bunt, running on every hit ball be it if you will be thrown out at first or not and so forth. Some might say not the most exciting lineup in the league and guess what they are almost 5 games ahead of the Angles in first place. One thing that I understand internally from dealing with the A’s in the past as well as now and knowing folks in their organization is that they have a great “culture,” they know they do not have the fan base and the funds like other teams so they have work with what they have but the people that do work for them, play for them love being their and speak well of the organization. They are not perfect but again, as an organization they are healthy. I want that for our Cubs too and that takes a lot more than just players and winning but fostering good relationships with all that are concerned. I guess jhosk, what I was trying to say in a “fantasy” sort of way is that if someone in the organization stepped up to the plate in such a way that was not just in “talk” only but meant what they said and said what they meant, then they should be able to deal with Jeff and him wanting to stay and be a part of something special, even though there might be some bumps along the way. But at this point I have to agree, I do not see it happening and for his well-being I do not fault him if he goes. Again, as I mentioned above, just some of my frustration that I do not always “show,” as I am trying to stay positive here. Take care now. Mahalo!

You keep on saying you would have no respect for him like Jeff Samardzija actually cares if you respect him or not. If he does sign a long-term deal with the Cubs, I’m sure he’ll sign it with the expectation that the Cubs will be a contender during that contract and that he’ll be one of their top starters during that contract. He is 29, but while other pitchers his age were throwing all year round when they were in high school and college, he was spending most of his time playing football and only played baseball on the side. He doesn’t have nearly as many pitches on his arm as other 29 year old pitchers do, which is why it’s so hard to figure out if he’s peaking now or just now entering his prime.
And I wouldn’t feel too bad for him, as he’s in a pretty good position right now, as are the Cubs. Through his contract demands, he can pretty much dictate whether or not he stays on the Cubs. And the Cubs can either lock him up and hope that he’s just now entering his prime, or they can trade him to a 2014 contender and get some pretty decent talent in return.
Lastly, Samardzija is not an idiot. He knows exactly what the Cubs are doing, as he has been a part of this organization since 2008. The competitor in him might say he wants to win right now and thinks his teammates and him can do it but is totally frustrated that they haven’t come through for him so far this season, but honestly he has to know that the focus of the franchise is mainly on players that aren’t in the Majors yet. If he decides to stay here, he knows that he’ll be here when these prospects, many of whom he has played with in Spring Training now, finally arrive. I don’t think he’s going to be demanding anything from the Cubs. I think he’ll give the Cubs a number that he’s expecting and if they don’t meet it then he knows he’ll be somewhere else at this time next year and both sides are likely to benefit no matter what happens.

I disagree Bigtime. The Cubs are not going to be competitive this season or next or who knows when. Jeff deserves to work for a contender now. His outings are wasted with this team and will continue to be for the immediate or possibly longterm future. If he has even a scintilla of pride, he would surely want to perform for a club that can actually contend, not an also-ran, which is what we are. I`d love to find an area where we can actually agree, but this is not one of them, I can assure you. Jeff Samardzija deserves to pitch for a winner right now.

Well, I guess it comes down to whether Samardzija thinks the Cubs plan will work out or not. I know how you and I see it, but we’ll see what Samardzija thinks based on his actions over the next few months.
The problem right now is no one is going to make any kind of move at the moment. Not the Cubs, not a contender, and certainly not Samardzija demanding to be traded and refusing to throw another pitch until he is. However, I’m sure other teams are already sending scouts to see him pitch and I’m sure the Cubs are scouting likely trade partner’s minor league teams for potential returns in a trade. Now is the time for due diligence, and I’m sure it’s happening on both sides. I’m just saying that the Cubs can probably justify either a trade or an extension and unless he doesn’t think the Cubs are going anywhere with the prospects on their way up, Samardzija will probably be happy either way. If he absolutely does not want to pitch for the Cubs and thinks they will not be competitive, then he can make that very clear to the Cubs front office and he will no doubt be traded when the time comes to make a trade. In the end, the Cubs will do what’s they feel is best for them and Samardzija will do what he feels is best for him.

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