Cubs and The Shark Pull Sox Back Under .500


The regularity of tough luck losses for Jeff Samardzija have been well covered here on Cubbies Crib and in the local media in general. On Monday evening, The Shark decided to take matters into his own hands and made sure that he would leave the ballpark with a win. How does one go about guaranteeing that result? Well for starters, you need to toss a complete game shut out. Samardzija achieved that with a dominate outing, one in which 65 of his 108 pitches thrown were for strikes. Hits were at a premium for the White Sox, as the Cubs starter scattered two skimpy singles for the game. Despite two walks and eight strikeouts, he was also able to keep his pitch count in check to go the full nine innings.

Ironically, on the night Samardzija keeps the opposition off of the scoreboard, the offense wakes up with a bunch of runs. If you take a few of the eight runs scored last night and spread them across a few of his other starts, Samardzija would easily be looking at a 6-3 record on the season instead of a 3-6 win loss total with a 2.85 ERA. The Shark’s first career complete game shut out also ensured that his inconsistent bullpen mates would not spoil this one.

May 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) reacts after the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The Cubs defeats the White Sox 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

As for the offense, the Cubs accomplished the outburst with the help of a conscious effort to be a little more patient at the plate. Starlin Castro drew a rare walk for himself with one out in the first. The Cubs shortstop then stole second while Anthony Rizzo struck out at the plate and Castro was cashed in on a clutch two out single by Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs veteran left fielder would add another single to his name in the fourth and stole his sixth base of the season, but his teammates were unable to bring him in with one out. That sixth base swipe already ties Soriano’s season total last year and here we are not even done with the month of May yet.

The Cubs did cash in on another one out walk in the fifth frame, this time thanks to a two run homer from unlikely candidate Julio Borbon. The lead off man took a first pitch fastball over the right field wall after coming up a little short in Pittsburgh last week. Scott Hairston collected a rare RBI in the top of the sixth. Unfortunately for the new Cub’s struggling batting average, this was done via a sacrifice fly. The North Siders blew the game open in the seventh, with some help on a throwing error by Sox back stop Tyler Flowers on a strikeout that allowed Ryan Sweeney to reach base. Borbon followed with a single for his second hit of the night, but Castro’s bid for a RBI was snuffed out when Sweeney was caught at home on a throw by left fielder Dayan Viciedo, leaving the Cubs short stop with just a single in the box score.

That set the stage for some more two out magic, a continuing theme from Sunday afternoon’s comeback win over the Reds. Rizzo hit a clutch triple to center to score both Borbon and Castro, making it 6-0 Cubs. Soriano rounded out his productive night with another RBI single and the blue half of Chicago was well on its way to celebrating bragging rights for one night. The visitors tallied nine total hits on the night, although there is room for minor concern that all of the base knocks were compliments of the top four hitters in the Cubs line up. The bottom half of the order went a combined 0 for 17, including DH Hairston, Sunday’s hero Welington Castillo, and Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney.

The Cubs will look to “sweep” the two game set on the South Side tonight before hosting their cross town neighbors at Wrigley for a pair of matinees on Wednesday and Thursday to round out the split four game “series”.