Samardzija shines in second-half start

July, 20, 2013
7/20/13
12:18
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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DENVER -- Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija gave up his All-Star break in order to get himself turned around for the second half of the season. The hard work he did with pitching coach Chris Bosio paid big dividends on Friday night when he allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings against a tough Colorado Rockies batting order.

“It is not ideal to be throwing bullpens over the break,” Samardzija said. “I went to (Wrigley) twice over the break and we changed a couple of things with my mechanics. If you would have asked me all year how they were I would have told you they were off until today.”

Samardzija had his best outing in three weeks, winning his sixth game, 3-1 over the Rockies. This was his ninth time of throwing seven innings or better in his 20 starts this season.

[+] EnlargeJeff Samardzija
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsJeff Samardzija allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings on Friday.
“We decided to quit making adjustments and concentrate on pitch selection and pitch location,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes these things click and you are able to go from there."

Samardzija and catcher Welington Castillo made the play of the game in the fourth inning. Samardzija threw a pitch that eluded the catcher and hit the bricks behind home plate. Troy Tulowitzki tried to score, but was tagged out by the pitcher after Castillo made an acrobatic throw in desperation just in time.

“I think that was the momentum switch in the game,”Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “That will definitely be a web gem. It was a funny combination to become one of our top web gems of the year.”

The Cubs were extra pumped up after rookie Junior Lake made his big league debut with a three-hit performance.

“I have seen Lake a lot over the last couple of spring trainings,” Samardzija said. “I knew he could play. With young guys like him you come up here, keep your mouth shut and do your work. He was great today. I know for a fact he has not played a lot of centerfield. You expect to see him keep growing, he came in and was a spark for us.”

The Matt Garza trade rumors somehow have not been a distraction for the winning pitcher or his teammates.

“It is not an easy situation to be in,” Samardzija said. “Garza is married with what -- five or six kids. He knows if something happens he has to uproot his family and move on. He comes in here and works really hard and does his work for this team. That speaks volumes about the guy. If he does get moved the team that gets him is getting one heck of a pitcher and one heck of a guy.”

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.284 13 64 53
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 29
RBIA. Rizzo 69
RA. Rizzo 80
OPSA. Rizzo .881
WJ. Hammel 8
ERAT. Wood 4.91
SOJ. Arrieta 127