Nationals 3 @ Cubs 4

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Or maybe they can? I knew going into the recap that I would have to write about one of my least favorite Cubs, Jeff Samardzija. Little did I know at the time my other least favorite Cub, Alfonso Soriano, would also figure prominently in this, the Cubs first win of 2012!

Jeff Samardzija pitched a beautiful game, taking only 110 pitches to get 26 outs. 72% of his pitches were strikes, and if I said I was surprised about how successful he was that would be an understatement. I really have to give him props.

Jordan Zimmerman also pitched a good game, seemingly helped by the Cubs’ first-pitch-aggressiveness. In the second inning he only had to make five pitches to retire the Cubs, and in the fifth only one of four batters saw more than one pitch. Bob Brenly mentioned more than once (as did Keith Moreland) the reason the Cubs were swinging at so many first pitches was because Zimmerman was throwing so many strikes. At first I thought this was another of the myriad excuses Bob makes for this team on a daily basis. But as the game went on and Zimmerman et. al. started throwing fewer strikes, the boys indeed showed more patience. Sorry Bob!

Not only did Alfonso Soriano drive in two runs (Castro via a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning, and Barney on a single in the 6th), he also laid himself out in the top of the 4th and made an excellent defensive play. Yes, that’s right, I said it. Alfonso Soriano made an excellent defensive play, robbing Adam LaRoche of what appeared to be a sure hit. I have to give him props too.

Other Tidbits:

  • After Ian Desmond’s leadoff double, Samardzija retired 15 Nationals in a row.
  • Washington chose Jordan Zimmerman with the compensatory draft pick they received when Alfonso Soriano signed with the Cubs.
  • Steve Clevenger, making his first start of the year, got the Cubs’ first hit of the game.
  • Carrying over from last season, Starlin Castro now has a 14 game hitting streak, and has gotten on base safely in the last 43 games.
  • Sadly the defensive side of Starlin Castro isn’t nearly as impressive. Castro made a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. It came perilously close to changing the outcome of the entire game. After the error, Samardzija gave up a home run to Adam LaRoche, bringing the Nationals within one and costing Samardzija his first career complete game.
  • When Dale Sveum visited the pitching mound after Castro’s error (but before LaRoche’s home run) there was a very audible “NO” from what seemed to be the entire remaining crowd.
  • When Dale Sveum visited the pitching mound after LaRoche’s home run and signaled for Carlos Marmol, the entire remaining crowd threw up a little.
  • When Marmol proceeded to walk the first batter he faced, the entire remaining crowd simply left. Ok that’s not entirely true. But I bet it crossed their minds!
  • Marmol picked up his first save, and lowered his ERA to 20.25.
  • Cubs win! And today, yes, I love Samardzija and Soriano!

Today’s discussion point comes from Joe. Take it away Joe!

In the bottom of the 7th, with the Cubs leading 2-1, Bryan LaHair led off the inning with a double. That immediately sparked a small debate on Twitter between myself and another person. I argued that the use of the sacrifice bunt in that situation by Marlon Byrd was a complete waste of an out. My feeling is that by giving them an out, it reduces the run expectancy of the inning from 1.170 with a man on 2nd and no outs to 0.989 with a man on 3rd and one out. I was rebutted by someone who argued that while the total run expectancy for the inning reduces, the probability for that runner to score actually increases from 63.7% to 67.4%

My feeling is this, if you want to play for one run each inning, then have fun playing for 3rd and 4th place. Winning teams don’t play for one run. They play to score big innings, especially when we have a pen nursing wounds from two straight implosions. You have to play for the big inning. I see very few, if any, reason why a non-pitcher should ever be laying down a sac bunt.

Agree or disagree?

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Elizabeth Pearson stumbled upon VFTB around 2006, and enjoys encouraging conversation among the wide variety of readers brought together by their love of the Cubs. She’s married, has a Cub-loving pug named Phinneaus, and enjoys biking, hiking, cooking and gardening. She calls Chesterton, Indiana home and hopes to one day retire on Mackinac Island. Connect with Lizzie via email or Instagram.