For the third straight game the Cubs found themselves in a nail bitter that looked like it would come down to the final innings to decide a winner, that’s exactly what happened. The Cubs got another outstanding starting pitching performance, the third straight one to start the 2012 season. This time it was Jeff Samardzija who had the honors, and he was the best of the bunch so far. Samardzija all but cruised through the first 8 innings on Sunday, holding the Nats to one run and three hits up to that point. It looked like another one run advantage heading to the ninth, but the Cubs came through with two huge insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Starlin Castro roped a one out run scoring double, and then Ian Stewart came up with a huge RBI single off of lefthander Sean Burnett to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Unlike the first two games of the season, it looked like Samardzija was determined to leave the bullpen out of this one. He retired the first two Nats hitters in the ninth inning in dominant fashion, then got what should, SHOULD, have been the final out to complete his masterpiece. Zimmerman hit a harmless ground ball to short which Castro proceeded to short arm into the ground giving LaHair no chance for the scoop, thus extending the game. With LaRoche coming up Sveum went out to have a word with Samardzija before delighting the packed house at Wrigley by leaving him in to finish his business. Samardzija responded by giving up a two run bomb of a home run to LaRoche and just like that it was a 4-3 game, and Samardzija’s afternoon was over. Here we go again as Marmol entered the game with two outs, no one on and a precarious one run lead. In true Carlos Marmol fashion he walked the first hitter he faced on 5 pitches, which brough Xavier Nady to the plate with a chance to make a difference. Marmol jumped ahead of Nady 0-2 then almost plunked him with his common overthrown slider with two strikes, the next slider he threw caught way to much of the plate but Nady just missed it, and popped it up, game over, Cubs win, exhale, Happy Easter.
Born on Third’s Thoughts:
Jeff Smardzija! What an outstanding performance by the newly converted starter. All spring long Dale Sveum had said that he absolutely loves the command Samardzija has shown, and that’s the key with him, he has lights out stuff but that doesn’t mean anything unless he can harness it. He harnessed it today, and he was one out from turning in a spectacular complete game performance. Really liked to see the Cubs add on in the bottom of the 8th, too often Cubs teams kind of rest on their laurels when they have a lead late just hoping to hang on for the victory. Today they made sure to go out there and win the game instead of waiting around to lose. Carlos Marmol is still lost, and major league baseball has finally figured it out, make him throw a strike. Hitters used to go up against Marmol with no approach what so ever, just swinging at will, now they are making him beat them instead of the other way around and he can’t do it, maybe he will recapture it, but I think what we are seeing is a little more telling than the Cubs want to admit. Castro? Come on, time to make the routine plays young man. Cubs win, that’s all that matters today, hope everyone that celebrates Easter had a happy one.
Thanks for reading,
– George Cotugno