Samardzija falls flat as Phillies pound Cubs
Right-hander allows nine runs over just 3 1/3 innings in finale
PHILADELPHIA -- On Thursday morning, Cubs manager Dale Svuem sat in his office and talked about his team's injury woes this season. To that end, his squad entered the final game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park in desperate need of a quality start by starter Jeff Samardzija.
"We need one of those late inning games," Sveum said. "We need eight or nine innings. We haven't had one of those in awhile. We need to shut the door and win this series."
What the Cubs needed and what they received were two different things as they fell in the afternoon affair, 12-1, to the Phillies. Samardzija matched a career low as he lasted just 3 1/3 innings in which he allowed nine runs on 11 hits including five in his final inning before being lifted for Eduardo Sanchez, who was called up earlier in the day to replace the injured Thomas Neal. The last time Samardzija went 3 1/3 innings was in his first career start in 2009, which coincidentally was also against the Phillies.
"Not what the doctor was ordering today," Sveum said. "He just really didn't have anything. No split, obviously the fastball was flat and got hit hard. Mistakes changed the game around and unfortunately things just didn't go that well and we need some length from a starter soon."
After a perfect opening inning, things quickly unraveled for the starter as he allowed a pair of runs in both the second and third innings as the Phillies spread out seven hits. Darin Ruf delivered two of those hits, including a two-run home run in the third that gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
For a team in desperate need of a long outing, this certainly didn't shape up to be anything of the sort as Samardzija has struggled over the last two-plus months. Since June 1, the righty is 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA in 13 starts. Even more to the point in his seven starts since July 1 he's 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA.
On Thursday, he allowed nine runs for the second time in six starts. He even disagreed with his manager about what was and what was not working on this day.
"They put the bat on the ball, I thought I was in the zone," said Samardzija, who did not allow a walk for only the second time this season. "I had runners on in every inning after that first one, so too many balls in the zone and they didn't take the fastball.
"[The splitter] has been great. I thought I threw some pretty good ones. The slider was good, it's one of those games you have to go back and look at the tape and break down what was happening."
The Cubs got on the board thanks to a Nate Schierholtz home run in the fourth off of Phillies starter Ethan Martin, who notched his first career victory. Later in the frame, Samardzija grounded out to first with two on to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning Michael Martinez led off with a single into center. After a sacrifice bunt, Kevin Frandsen hit one back at Samardzija, who opted to go to third for Martinez, but his high throw couldn't get the runner. Carlos Ruiz followed with an RBI single and Chase Utley hit his second double in as many innings to score Frandsen for a 6-1 lead.
"I think I came in too much to the lefties," Samardzija said. "Lot of questions to answer after today."
Domonic Brown knocked in a pair of runs on a single, and after Sanchez replaced Samardzija, rookie Cody Asche hit his first career home run as the Phillies took a 10-1 lead.
"It was pretty cool," Asche said of his first homer. "Just to round the bases and shake [third base coach Ryne Sandberg's] hand as I went past third. Being able to touch home and have [Brown] smile and waiting for me. It was pretty cool."
While Samardzija was knocked around a bit, Sveum is not particularly worried about his starter going forward.
"[Samardzija] is having a pretty good second half," Sveum said. "I'm not that concerned. A couple of mistakes could have changed that whole game around too.
"He's been battling his split finger, it hasn't been there hardly at all on a consistent basis. That's obviously a big thing but command of the fastball, keeping it down, getting ahead in the count when he does have it."