MILWAUKEE – It’s June now and the Cubs have the worst record in baseball and Jeff Samardzija has been pitching like an All-Star.
Don’t overthink this one while trying to make sense of run differential, interpret the rooftop contract and understand selective aggressiveness at the plate. Samardzija’s a goner.
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Samardzija got rocked in Sunday’s 9-0 loss as the Milwaukee Brewers hit the ball all over Miller Park. It’s not early anymore and reality’s beginning to set in for a last-place team. The trade rumors will heat up again once the amateur draft ends this week.
“There’s a lot of talk going on,” Samardzija said. “I’m not saying it gets to you. It’s just part of the job. You go out and whatever’s on the outside doesn’t matter. You have a job to do every fifth day and you assess it like that. You don’t make any excuses for it.
“That’s a solid hitting team. When you throw it over the plate and you’re behind in the count…they’re going to take advantage of it.”
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Samardzija (1-5, 2.54 ERA) wrote it off as one of those days after giving up eight runs in three innings, but his body language was telling.
Ryan Braun had already hammered a first-pitch fastball over the left-field fence for an early 2-0 lead and Samardzija couldn’t hide the look of frustration on his face when a pop-up fell between shortstop Starlin Castro and leftfielder Junior Lake.
Scooter Gennett hustled for a leadoff double in the second inning and scored when pitcher Kyle Lohse bounced a two-out single up the middle.
“We could be making more plays for him,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “But he hasn’t let anything get to him, the outside talks and whatnot.”
Samardzija walked one batter and hit another to load the bases in the third inning before getting a double play. But he loaded the bases again and dropped his head and slumped his shoulders watching Lyle Overbay’s three-run double fall into left field, making it 7-0.
“I’ve been really good this year at putting stuff behind me and moving on to the next pitch,” Samardzija said. “That’s probably what got me today. We always want to avoid that going-out-and-just-throwing mentality and they definitely got me.”
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It almost looked like the Brewers (34-23) knew what was coming.
“We all know what kind of stuff Samardzija has and how good he’s been pitching,” said catcher Welington Castillo, who left the game with a sore back as a precaution. “His stuff was there today. They were just on it – every pitch that he threw.”
Samardzija began the day leading the majors with a 1.68 ERA and had gone at least six innings in nine of his 11 starts. He should still be receiving the get-out-of-jail-free card that ex-Cub Matt Garza talked about while riding the wave with the first-place Brewers.
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It’s almost time to begin Samardzija Watch all over again.
“I wouldn’t say it’s that big a deal,” Samardzija said. “I’d like to think I’m a pretty focused guy, especially when it comes to the day I pitch. The future is uncertain for everybody, so you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“All I can do is go out and prove that – in good times and bad times – I’m a pretty important guy to have around here and I want that to go on for a long time. It sucks, but we’re going to take our medicine and move on.”