Despite a strong day on the bump from Jeff “Shark” Samardzija, the Chicago Cubs fell to the Seattle Mariners at Cubs Park, because you can`t win if you can`t score. It was the Mike Olt game as well Thursday afternoon, as the hopeful opening day third baseman actually got his first start at the position, surely taking another step toward that opening day in Pittsburgh.
Jeff Samardzija took the mound in front of as many as 25 scouts, according to Bruce Levine, and put on a very nice show for them, tossing the first four scoreless innings while punching out seven, then ran into a little trouble in the fifth and sixth innings, finishing up with five-plus innings pitched while giving up two runs with eight punch outs. This was Samardzija`s final full effort outing, as the next time he goes out it`ll be his last spring start on a lower pitch count.
The scoring started with the eventual game-winner in the fifth, a sacrifice fly courtesy of Kyle Seager, tallying the first run off of Shark. The Mariners continued with this trend, as catcher John Buck made it a 2-0 score the very next inning with another sac fly, scoring Samardzija`s second run.
The Chicago Cubs couldn`t work up a comeback in the later frames, ultimately dropping a shutout after staying dead quiet on offense for pretty much the entire game. And after another run crossed the plate in the ninth on an RBI groundout from Endy Chavez, they were out of the game for good with just one inning left.
The first game Mike Olt got at the hot corner all spring went without a glitch, helped by the fact he didn`t have any throwing opportunities for the seven innings he played. The guy all Cubs fans want to steal the starting job from Luis Valbuena finished up 1-3 with a solid single and with his shoulder presumably almost ready for opening day, this is a fantastic step towards cracking the big league roster come March 31st.
After breaking yet another Cactus League attendance record at 15,243, the Cubs will square off against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch starting at the usual 3:05 CT. Chris Rusin (2-2, 5.40 ERA) will look to help his pursuit of that fifth starter job tomorrow against the Crosstown Rivals, who will send fellow lefty John Danks (0-0, 2.08 ERA) to the hill to continue his solid spring training performance so far.