5/21 Yankees 4, Cubs 2 (13 innings)
If you gauge a pitcher’s performance by ERA, Jeff Samardzija is the best in baseball. If you judge someone on wins, he’s not.
Brendan Ryan scored the tie-breaking run on a wild pitch by Jose Veras and John Ryan Murphy added an RBI single in the 13th inning Wednesday to lift the Yankees to a 4-2 Interleague victory over the Cubs and Samardzija, who was was once again denied a win.
Ryan led off the 13th against Veras with an infield single that third baseman Luis Valbuena knocked down. Yangervis Solarte walked, and both he and Ryan moved up on Preston Claiborne’s sacrifice in his first Major League plate appearance. Veras’ 2-1 pitch to Murphy sailed to the backstop, and Ryan scored. Murphy then delivered a bloop RBI single to right.
The game should have never gone to extra innings but an error by second baseman Darwin Barney led to a tying run. Trailing 2-0 in the ninth against Hector Rondon, Mark Teixeira singled, Brian McCann walked and Solarte singled to load the bases. Ichiro Suzuki hit a grounder to shortstop Starlin Castro, who got the force at second. A run scored on the play, but the Yankees added another as Barney’s relay throw skipped past first baseman Anthony Rizzo for an error.
“It just got away,” Barney said. “Ichiro running, grass is slow. I thought I had to rush it a little bit. You look at it again and maybe I should’ve ate it. I’m trying to make the play and I’d rather go down that way than holding it.”
Barney hasn’t had consistent playing time this season as he did the last two years. Could that be the problem?
“Those are excuses,” he said. “I’m not going to make an excuse right now. I tried to make a play and the throw got away from me.”
And nobody felt worse for Samardzija than he did.
“I feel terrible,” Barney said. “The guy went seven scoreless again. He’s the best pitcher in the league right now — American League, National League, Japanese league. The wins will come. It’s one of those funny things — some days you come out and put up five runs in the first two innings and it hasn’t happened for him yet.”
Samardzija’s ERA now is 1.46. He has zero wins in 10 starts. The Cubs are 1-9 in his starts, and simply haven’t scored any runs.
Any team needing a starting pitcher has to be watching Samardzija’s outings and wondering what he could do for their staff. Since last season, Samardzija has been the subject of trade rumors, and knows the chatter will increase as the Trade Deadline approaches. Is he wasting his outings with the Cubs?
“We’re not wasting anything,” Samardzija said. “Modern technology, every game gets seen and watched. I don’t think it’s any secret with what I’m doing. I can get better, and I’m doing some things out there that are good and we look to keep building on that. It’s 10 starts in and we have another handful to go hopefully and just keep doing it.”
He was vying for his first win since last Aug. 24 in San Diego. Since that date, 383 different Major League pitchers have earned at least one “W.” How can he not be pulling his hair out?
“I’ve seen it go the other way, too,” Samardzija said. “I go back to early in my career in ’08, ’09, when I didn’t know what I was doing but somehow managed a ERA in the 2.00’s my rookie year. You keep throwing the ball, and it’ll turn around.”
— Carrie Muskat