Once again, his teammates couldn’t complete the deal after another great outing from their starter. And so the Cubs fell 4-2 in 13 innings to the New York Yankees on Wednesday after blowing a 2-0 ninth inning lead.
The man with the lowest ERA in baseball is still winless after 10 starts.
Going back to last year, Samardzija has now gone 13 consecutive starts allowing two or fewer earned runs. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that’s the second-longest streak since the league started compiling earned runs in 1913.
“I feel terrible,” Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said after the game. “The guy went seven scoreless again. He’s the best pitcher in the league right now. American League, National League, Japanese League. It doesn’t matter. I think he’s proven that.”
The usually sure-handed Barney contributed to the loss with a rare throwing error that allowed the tying run to score in the ninth. That came before reliever Jose Veras imploded again, throwing a wild pitch to allow the winning run to cross the plate in the 13th.
Despite Samardzija’s 1.46 ERA, the Cubs are 1-9 in games he has started. Samardzija gave up four hits in seven innings on Wednesday without giving up a run.
“[I feel] real bad,” Veras said. “He’s throwing unbelievable games, and we can’t hold it for him. The bullpen feels real bad.”
So once again the defense, bullpen and an offense that couldn’t add on runs let Samardzija down.
But his head remains high, maybe because he knows the baseball world sees what he’s doing and simply could care less about his 0-4 record. It really only means he’s pitching for a bad team.
“With modern technology, every game gets seen and watched,” Samardzija said. “I don’t think it’s any secret what I’m doing.”
Is that a nod toward the public notion that Samardzija is on the trade block this season? Maybe that’s why he isn’t showing frustration after so many outstanding starts where his team has let him down. And maybe he knows he’s auditioning not for the job he has but for the one he wants.
“I feel great,” Samardzija said. “It’s still early. I look forward to being strong in the second half and improve on my second-half numbers from last year, which weren’t too solid. This is a good way to do it. I know come the second half of the season I’m going to feel really good.”
That must be music to the ears of contending teams that are in need of pitching. The second half is where the pennant race heats up, and it hasn’t been the strongest time of the year for the Cubs ace. His ERA was over 5.00 in the final three months last year.
For as much as he’s speaking to reporters after he pitches, perhaps he’s also talking to potential suitors for his services.
For now, Samardzija is willing to back up his teammates, including a bullpen that has blown three saves for him and three for the rest of the pitching staff. He’s also willing to forgive a defense that’s given up six unearned runs in his 10 starts and an offense that’s averaged two runs of support per contest. How does he explain it all?
“Chain of separate events I’d say,” Samardzija said with a smirk. “It’s just the way it’s gone.”