Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
After a step forward last week that saw the Chicago Cubs post a winning record for the week and win their first series of the season, it was two steps back this week. The Cubs again squandered good starting pitching, and no one felt that squeeze more than Jeff Samardzija.
Team Recap: 1-6 for the week, Season: 12-24, Last in NL Central
Things were looking good when…Jeff Samardzija pitched nine innings of three-hit, shutout baseball against the White Sox in the series opener.
The wheels came off when… The bullpen couldn’t hold after his outing, then Samardzija pitched six MORE innings of shutout baseball, and then had to turn it over to the bullpen…again. Which quickly allowed two runs and brought Samardzija’s long winless streak to 14 games.
Manager Rick Renteria seemed to know that if Samardzija was going to break his winless streak, he would have to do it himself. He had the opportunity, but the Cubs again failed to give him any offensive support as the Cubs went on to lose 3-1 in 12 innings to the White Sox. And as if that wasn’t tough enough, Samardzija went out and threw another six scoreless following a long rain delay, only to watch the bullpen surrender a quick two and fall to the Atlanta Braves 2-0.
The only real bright spot of the week came in the series finale versus the White Sox, as the Cubs were able to tally 12 and take down The ChiSox 12-5 to avoid the series sweep. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Mike Olt all homered, with Olt’s being a grand slam to bust the game wide open. While Olt’s average still sits below the Mendoza line, he’s showing promise after hitting .294 this week, and adding three home runs bring his total to seven. That currently leads all NL rookies.
Players of the week
Jeff Samardzija – 15 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K, 0.53 WHIP
It seems like I could put Samardzija in here each week, and I kept hoping that first win would be the reason. But after this week he’s established himself as an “ace”, winless or not. I got to watch him in person Saturday night versus the Braves, and he did not disappoint. His cutter was as sharp as it’s been all season, making him that much more effective. But you can’t win if you don’t score, and Samardzija keeps ending up on the wrong side of that cliche.
Mike Olt – .294 (5/17), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K
Olt’s season numbers still leave a lot to be desired, but he seems to be more relaxed at the plate, and it’s starting to show. The Cubs have continued to platoon at third, but Olt seems to be earning more and more at-bats. As mentioned, he leads all NL rookies with seven home runs, and that’s without playing everyday. I’d like to see him get a healthy dose of at-bats against right-handers, see if he can’t lock in the everyday job at third.