View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



May 2012



Game 24: Jeff Samardzija Tosses a Gem

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 3 @ Reds 1

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

For the second straight time, I get to recap a gem of a pitching outing. Last time it was Matt Garza and this time Jeff Samardzija was outstanding. It was a game that you really had to see to fully appreciate how well he threw the baseball. The final line looks nice, but if you watched the game you saw how much he was around the strikezone each and every hitter. How he limited his pitches throughout the game and go ahead of guys early. There were several occasions, to middle of the order hitters, that he simply challenged them and blew the heat right past them. An absolutely dominant performance by the Shark tonight and I’m glad I was able to watch it.

BATS HEATING UP? – The Cubs finished the season with the lowest total in the NL for team home runs with nine. Tonight they hit a pair of solo shots, which was all the offense needed to support Samardzija. Both homers came off mistake pitches up in the zone to Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart. For Stewart, it was the first home run he’s hit since 2010. I’ve seen it written a couple places that the Cubs believe the bats will heat up as the calendar changes from April to May. While I don’t believe in the significance of the date itself reading May as opposed to April, I do think that there are very few places to get your home run mojo going better than Great American Ballpark. Through May 1st, there have been an average of 2.685 homer runs hit per game, which is almost a full home run better than the 2nd best park, Fenway. Cite sample size if you will, but in 2011 it ranked 3rd, 8th in 2010, 6th in 2009, 4th in 2008, 2nd in 2007, 3rd in 2006 and 6th in 2005. It’s just a really nice park to hit homers in and hopefully we can take advantage again tomorrow against Homer Bailey. It just seems like it would be destiny based on his first name.

YOU MAKE THE CALL – There were a couple times when I logged in my notes things that I thought would make good You Make the Call questions. Let’s begin. The first, and most obvious situation is the one of when to pull Samardzija. He left the game with two outs in the 8th, relieved by Rafael Dolis. Dolis has looked decent this season in the setup role and ultimately got the job done. It’s easy to just look back with hindsight and say that Dale made the right call, but at the time, it frustrated me that he didn’t let Samardzija close out the inning. Looking back, without the benefit of hindsight, when do you pull Samardzija?

The second situation piggy backs right on the first one. Dolis came in and got the one batter he faced. He pitched a two inning save the other day and did fine. At that point, do you consider leaving him out there to start the 9th inning given the struggles of Carlos Marmol this season? Personally, I do. I don’t trust Marmol and so I want to do everything I can to protect a gem of an outing by Samardzija, which assures the win and that Samardzija goes to bed with confidence in himself continuing to grow after two straight night outings. Marmol got it done, but what would you have done?

The final situation was actually the first that came up in the game. In the 6th inning, up 2-1 and a man on 1st and 3rd with two outs, Geovany Soto came to the plate, which leads to a two part scenario. First, would you walk Geo to pitch to Samardzija at that point? I think I would, and it may have been the better call based on the Soto single. Second, if you walk Geo to load the bases, do you pull Samardzija at that point realizing that runs are hard to come by and this is a prime situation? I don’t think I do, but I’m sure it’s not unanimous. Thoughts?

  • Doc Raker

    I pull Smarja also and put in Dolis and leave him in for the ninth.

  • CubbieDude

    I let Jeff hit.  I remember his triple at Mesa.

  • Cubs Future

    I would pull the Shark as it is way too early in the season to have pitchers going deep (don’t know how long would have taken to get last out) and we don’t know how long we can ride him with a full season of starting especially after a heavy offseason workload to get ready.  Keep that confidence up as well.  I also have no problem with putting Marmol in as he needs to build some confidence himself.  This also leads to the possibility of better trade bait or if he fails more sample to make decision to take him out of the closer’s role.  As for Soto, why wouldn’t you want to pitch to him when he has been hitting well under .200.  You take your chances instead of adding another runner in a close game.  Hindsight definitely is a much easier route, but the manager definitely doesn’t have that option.  They will make mistakes sometimes, but the good ones will make a better percentage of good ones.  Then again sometimes would be right either way.

  • Doug Bagley

    That might’ve been Alf’s best game of the year.  3 very nice defensive plays and some solid hits into left field. The double play that blake started was ridiculous. Hanigan is slow in general plus he was gimpy too but still.  Shark was incredible.  Nice to see Marmol go 3 up 3  down. 
    @lizzie:disqus  – No homer but Geo on base 3 of 4 times!!! & he doubled his season RBI total 🙂
    Headed to GABP in a few hours…let’s sweep this thing!

  • RichBeckman

    Pulling Samardzija at that point is an easy call.  He had pitched 7 and 2/3rds, throwing 95 pitches.  The bullpen only needs four outs with a two run cushion.

    The Dolis or Marmol decision is trickier.  You just do not know which Marmol you are going to get (and are there no tells while he warms in the bullpen??).  There is the need to see Marmol put together a good stretch so he can be traded, and that is not going to happen if he is not used. Given that this year is as much to do with the future as with now…but I do admit to some apprehension when Marmol started the ninth.

    I’m not sure I would walk Geo given his average. There is the chance that walking him prods the Cubs into removing Samardzija, which, given how he was pitching would be a good.  But then, given how he was pitching, maybe the Cubs leave him in.  I think I pitch to Geo.

    If Geo is walked, I let Samardzija bat. I have no problem asking the bullpen for four outs, but nine outs when the starter is still pitching strong is pushing it.

  • Gymjok

    Were you ever going to do something- didn’t do it- and then wished you had.
    No- not talking about the you make the call game decisions.
    Yesterday I was going to post-
    Look for LaHair and/or Stewart to hit a home run tonight- but of course didn’t.

  • Gymjok

    Soto walked- ok with either way.
    6th inning pull Shark- definite no.
    8th- pull Shark- good call(I remember thinking even before Dale came out that even tho he hadn’t thrown a ton of pitches- he looked like he was starting to tire)
    Marmol for 9th- yes- the plan is supposed to be long term not this year- stick with the plan.
    ps- HR number 2 for Stewart ( a long way to go for 30) 🙂

    • Jedi

      He MIGHT hit 30 HRs in BP thru the end of the year…if he doesn’t get hurt.

  • Norm Bothwell

    I’m not as confident as you in Dolis…he with the 8 walks and 2k’s  prior to the one batter last night. He’s more of a pitch to contact guy and, IMO, that’s a risk with men on 1st and 3rd. I’d have left Samardzija in.
    Stick with Marmol in the 9th…
    Pitch to Geo…he’s only going to be successful, at best, 30% of the time, and with a base open and the pitcher on deck, they can be careful.

  • Eddie Von White

    1. I would have let Smarja pitch to the next hitter. I was sure the bullpen was going to blow it.  
    2. I would have let Dolis pitch the 9th. Just looking at Marmol upsets me. 
    3. If I’m the Reds I walk Geo for the very reason Beckman gave – it might prod us into taking Samardzija out.

    Let’s hope Homer serves up a couple of homers tonight.

    • Joe Aiello

      If you sit down to watch the game “tonight” it better be because you DVR’d it or you’ll be out of luck. It’s a day game today.

      • Eddie Von White

        I’m all over it.


    Bats heat up with the weather? Last year was one of the hottest summers ever and that didn’t happen. I would have kept Samardzidja in the game in the 6th, too early to pull him. I’m fine with Marmol closing. He needs to build up his trade value.

  • Jedi

    I can see why you might pull Samardzija if the bases are loaded and you only have a one-run lead in that situation.  He’d been bailed out of the 4th & 5th innings with double plays.  Of course, the way he pitched after that validates the trust that Sveum showed (I think his low pitch count helped too).  The other problem you have is that our bench blows, there’s no one that didn’t start last night who I think comes in right there is guaranteed to have a great at-bat.

    It’s probably going to be a while before I think Dale has such an obvious choice to make out of the bullpen for a closer…no one is consistent so at this point they might as well be playing rock, paper, scissors to see who gets the appearance.  As long as he brings in the correct-handed pitcher, who cares.

  • Swede

    It was Stewart’s 2nd home run of 2012.  His 1st since 2010 happened in St Louis.

  • Jedi

    Take a bow if you suggested the Cubs would hit multiple bombs today…can you make some predictions for tomorrow too, Joe!

  • Seymour Butts

    Ok with Dolis, Marmol should not be used in any game that would not be called due to the 10 run rule in Little League.