Even though Jeff Samardzija came in with no wins and the Cubs were 1-9 in his starts, this wasn’t a game that stacked up well for the Giants. Yusmeiro Petit was starting in place of Matt Cain, and Samardzija owns the record for the lowest ERA through 10 starts with no victories. Now he has his first win of the season after the Cubs beat the Giants, 8-4.
Samardzija gave up an RBI single off the wall and a two-run home run to Pablo Sandoval, as well as a triple to Michael Morse. But if the Giants could potentially trade for Samardzija like Buster Olney suggested, this was a pretty good audition — 10 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings, along with a double off the right field wall. Samardzija’s teammates wouldn’t mind if he stuck around, and they showed their appreciation by giving him a beer shower in the clubhouse after the game.
Playing right field for Chicago was a familiar face, Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz has struggled this year, but he collected his first home run of the season with a blast into the bleachers in right-center off Petit. It was his third home run against the team he came up with; in 31 plate appearances Schierholtz has put up a .346/.433/.769 slash line against San Francisco.
I asked Schierholtz — who went 2-for-4 today — about the success he’s had against his former team.
“There’s always motivation to play well every day, but I’m sure there’s something a little more motivational when you’re playing a team you’ve played for before,” said Schierholtz, who doesn’t harbor any hard feelings toward the fans who cheered for the Danville native for six seasons.
“The fans here are some of the best in the game. They showed it, staying until the ninth when we’re up four runs. I always feel welcome here, around town and at the ballpark. It’s a great feeling. A lot of good memories here.”
The Cubs came in with the lowest winning percentage in baseball, but they outhit, out-pitched and out-fielded the Giants. One of the main culprits was David Huff, who came into the game in the sixth and matched Petit’s runs-allowed total in just an inning and a third. Huff’s ERA jumped to 5.40 after allowing four runs and seven hits, and he also committed one of the Giants’ two errors with an errant pickoff throw.
But hey, for the low-low price of just $300 you can own his camouflage game-worn jersey!
— There was some pretty bad heckling right below the press box today. The fan — who, to his credit, refrained from cursing — asked Darwin Barney where his costume was, because he’s a dinosaur. (Get it???) He told Samardzija to cut his hair because, “You’re not Pagan!!!” There were other comments that were equally lame, but I blocked most of them out.
— There were a couple strange moves in this game.
David Huff pinch hits for Yusmeiro Petit.
Huff struck out, so at least he didn’t pull his hamstring running down the line this time. But if there was any time to question the Giants’ reliance on a 13-man pitching staff and their reluctance to use the DL when guys like Matt Cain strain their hamstrings and have to miss starts, today was it.
“I wanted to keep my options open later in the game. I did have a little concern with (Hector) Sanchez, he took a ball off the mask. I didn’t know if I was going to have to replace him. (Michael) Morse, he fouled a ball off his calf, it was tight. Huff is probably one of our better hitting pitches. It wasn’t pretty today, but he actually swings the bat pretty good. At that point with nobody on I was going to let him hit. He’s a better hitter than Petit,” Bochy said.
Angel Pagan steals second base in the eight, down four.
The play at second was so close that the Cubs had it reviewed, but Pagan got to stay at second. One school of thought is that you don’t risk getting thrown out on the bases when a deficit is that large, but Bochy was fine with Pagan’s decision.
“You have speed there and you think you can get the bag, why not get one run closer? You still play the game,” Bochy said.
“Anytime you’ve got a chance to steal a bag and get in scoring position, we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to play the game hard, and play it right. You might get thrown out, but you’ve got a better chance at three runs down than four runs down. We didn’t get him in, but he did his job.”
— I came late to Samardzija’s interview and immediately I wondered why it smelled like a frat house. Then I saw the blue beer cans scattered around his locker.
“I’d rather just drink the beer than pour it on me, but whatever,” Samardzija said. “It was Bud Light. At least it wasn’t Natty.”