Do you see that girl to the right? Pretty, right? Well, I just wanted you to know that “Yes she will” but not with you. That’s called reality.
Reality is one of those things you just can’t change no matter how much you want to. In your mind you’re a .400 hitter with smoking hot nekkid chicks dripping off your manly loins. Reality says you’re overweight, smell bad and couldn’t get laid if you had a Porsche and an AMEX black card.
I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is.
But not all reality is bad. In fact some of it downright rocks. Not so much in Chicago’s winter sports, I admit. The Bulls seem to have surrendered this season, the Hawks may not have a season and the Bears are scripted to get to the second round of the playoffs and then get smacked. That keeps everyone employed at Halas Hall and avoids the problems that come with fielding a legitimate contender.
And yet ......
Reality says that the Cubs are starting to look like a baseball team. Yes they are going to lose a player or three over the next week or so but any fan of the game has to like the pieces that are staying. Carrie Muskat was at the game yesterday and one of those pieces was front and center.
If Ryan Dempster is dealt, the Cubs will be counting on Jeff Samardzija, and on Monday night, the latter looked like an ace.
Samardzija gave up one hit over eight innings in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory over the Pirates, snapping Pittsburgh’s winning streak at five games.
“That was, no doubt, the best stuff he’s had,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Samardzija, who’s in his first full season as a starter. “He had his two-seamer working, kept the ball down, elevated when he wanted, had his split working, his slider, could get back in the count with his slider. I don’t think I’m on his Christmas list right now.”
That’s because Sveum pulled Samardzija after the right-hander had thrown 99 pitches, depriving him of a chance at a complete game.
“Obviously, I would’ve sent him back out there [for the ninth] if he had covered first base,” Sveum said.
The Pirates’ only hit off Samardzija came with one out in the fourth, when Andrew McCutchen hit a weak grounder toward second. First baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball, and Samardzija was late getting off the mound to cover at first. McCutchen beat the pitcher to the bag.
“McCutchen is kind of quick, so you can’t hesitate there,” Samardzija said. “I’m sure we’ll have [pitchers fielding practice] pretty early now because of me.”
Samardzija learned from his misstep.
“How [McCutchen] hit it threw me off there for a second,” Samardzija said. “He nobbed it, and I froze. I’ve talked to Rizzo before—I want him to be aggressive. That’s on me there—he made an aggressive play, and I need to be on first there.”
So, is Sveum off Samardzija’s holiday list?
“He’s still on my Christmas list,” Samardzija said. “Just not tonight. The coaches’ job is to look out for the players, and the players’ job is to go out and play the game. Everybody’s got emotions and opinions on things.”
Alfonso Soriano provided the offense, hitting an RBI double in the fourth and another in the ninth to back Samardzija (7-8), who won for just the second time in his last nine starts. He struck out five and walked one, throwing 71 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
“He was just getting us out,” McCutchen said of Samardzija. “That’s it. That’s the biggest thing. He was just getting us out. That’s it. He beat us today, so, shake it off. ... It happens to the best of us.”
It’s no surprise Samardzija’s best game came in Pittsburgh. It’s where he scored his first collegiate touchdown with Notre Dame.
“Football seems like a long time ago,” said Samardzija, an All-America wide receiver. “I don’t remember it too much.”
That’s good for the Cubs. Carlos Marmol entered in the ninth inning to record his 12th save in 14 opportunities. The win was the Cubs’ 15th in their last 23 games, and their first against the Pirates in four games this season.
Trade rumors swirled around the Cubs clubhouse before the game. Dempster appeared to be headed to the Braves, Matt Garza was being considered by the Dodgers and Paul Maholm was being scouted by teams, including the Pirates, his former club. Dempster spent much of the game next to Sveum in the dugout. Expect at least one Cubs player to be dealt by next Tuesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
“There’s a possibility of everything,” Sveum said. “It’s that time of year. Something could come up at the 11th hour. It’s that time of year; when you have the commodities that people want, anything can happen at any given time. The odds of all three of them being gone, no. That’s very impossible odds.”
What were they talking about? Sveum claims the discussion was focused on the team’s NHL sweater trip, scheduled for Aug. 2. Does that mean Dempster will still be with the Cubs then?
“He’s here. That’s it,” Sveum said. “[The media has] to give that a rest.”
Sorry, but that won’t happen until Aug. 1. The Cubs are counting on the 27-year-old Samardzija, who needed 97 pitches to get through five innings in his last start, against the Marlins.
“When he has his split, and he’s keeping the ball down and using his two-seamer as well, he’s been really good,” Sveum said. “He’s a horse. Obviously, things will change after this year as far as all the innings and worrying about it. I know he doesn’t get too happy about it, but he knows the issues going in. He’s proven to everybody what he is, and that’s a starting pitcher. To have an outing like that against the hottest team in all of baseball, swinging the bats, is pretty impressive.”
The Cubs entered the game having not scored in their last 25 innings, and they were hitless and scoreless through the first three against lefty Erik Bedard (5-11). Starlin Castro walked to open the fourth and scored one out later on Soriano’s double into right-center to end the streak. Castro also scored on Soriano’s second double of the game, his 20th of the year.
Soriano almost got the day off. Sveum was considering a break for the veteran.
“I’m feeling good,” Soriano said. “We had a bad weekend in St. Louis, but we came back today and had a better game. Samardzija pitched an incredible game, and we got the first one [in the series]. I hope tomorrow we play like we did tonight and we can win the series tomorrow.”
The Cubs have three pitchers in play for trades; Dempster, Garza & Malholm. There is no way in hell all four will get traded. As we discovered yesterday rumors of Dempster’s relocation were greatly exaggerated. According to everyone I could find the rumors began in Atlanta because, as we all know, lying to the pubic is the best way to earn their trust. Dempster is allegedly furious about the whole thing. Which would seem, given the control he has over where he goes, to eliminate Atlanta from any serious contention.
Good move Braves!
The Cubs are in no mood just to dump anyone either. If they don’t get the package they want they may offer extensions instead of plane tickets. That could make them very interesting very soon.
On the Southside no one seems interested in making the playoffs via the wild card. For those who bemoan the fact that they fell out of first this past weekend please keep in mind only three teams in history have gone wire to wire in first place and then won the World Series; the Yankees, the Tigers and the White Sox. In other words, every other team that’s won it all hasn’t done it. In some cases they haven’t even sniffed first place during the season. Simply put, Chillax my bruthas.
Yeah, I said it.
Anyway, Cash Kruth was at the game yesterday and watched as the team decided to win even if Gavin Floyd was pitching.
In May, the questions were about why the White Sox couldn’t win at home.
On Monday afternoon, the concern was a floundering offense.
By the time Monday’s third inning rolled around, the White Sox proved their lack of concern was justified.
Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios each homered and right-hander Gavin Floyd spun a quality start in his return from the disabled list, as the White Sox beat the Twins, 7-4, at U.S. Cellular Field.
The win snapped the club’s five-game losing streak, a skid that dropped the White Sox behind the Tigers in the American League Central. The victory was just the fourth in the last 12 games for the White Sox.
“When we swing it like that, we’re pretty good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Again, it’s one of those where you go through a tough stretch and a night like tonight you hope carries over.”
Although the White Sox remain in second place, they showed Monday their offensive struggles of the last 10 games—in which they hit only .228 and averaged 3.1 runs per game—were an aberration.
“You’ve heard it a thousand times: hitting’s contagious,” Dunn said. “Hopefully it carries over, but obviously you’re not guaranteeing anything.”
Chicago’s powerful lineup chased Twins starter Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.31 ERA) after 2 2/3 innings, as the middle of the White Sox order pounded the left-hander. Konerko hit a three-run home run in the first inning, his first homer since June 29 in New York.
Dunn hit a two-run homer in the third, taking Liriano deep to dead center. It was Dunn’s 29th homer, putting him in sole possession of the Major League lead, one ahead of Texas’ Josh Hamilton.
Rios followed Dunn’s homer with his own two-run shot, launching Liriano’s offering deep into the left-field seats. Rios is hitting .376 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 23 games.
Liriano was removed two batters later, allowing seven runs on seven hits. Left-hander Brian Duensing held the White Sox to three hits in four innings of scoreless relief.
“He got the ball up, and they made him pay. These guys can do that very well,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano. “We’ve seen them hit like this before. That’s a bunch of guys that when you make a mistake, that’s what’s going to happen.”
White Sox leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza—who entered hitting only .180 in his last 14 games—had three hits and stole a base as the White Sox won at U.S. Cellular for the ninth time in their last 11 games.
The South Siders’ recent play in Chicago—18-9 in their last 27 games—is in stark contrast from how they began the season at their home ballpark, going 7-13 in their first 20 games there. Monday’s crowd of 37,788—the second-largest of the season, behind only Opening Day—also provided quite the home-field advantage.
Floyd (8-8, 4.46), who was on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis, earned the win by allowing three runs (two earned) and walking six in six innings. He showed rust early, throwing 27 pitches in the first, 17 in the second and allowing a run in each inning, but settled down in the middle innings.
Sloppy play behind Floyd hampered the right-hander in the fifth and sixth innings. A throwing error by De Aza allowed a run to score in the fifth, while third baseman Kevin Youkilis was charged with two errors—one fielding and one throwing—on a play in the sixth. The three errors were a season high for the White Sox, who had committed only one in their last nine games.
Despite the three miscues, the defense was mainly Floyd’s friend. The White Sox turned five double plays for the first time since twisting six on Aug. 7, 2009, and shortstop Alexei Ramirez made a leaping, run-scoring catch in the ninth.
The Twins tied a franchise record by hitting into those five double plays.
“All our guys realize we can play defense,” Ventura said. “Those two in the middle [second baseman Gordon Beckham and Ramirez] did a great job of getting ground balls and getting Gav out of some situations where, if they get through or you don’t get those double plays, it’s a different kind of game.”
Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit homered in the eighth off right-hander Jesse Crain before Brett Myers made his White Sox debut, retiring the lone batter he faced.
The team pulled off five double plays last night. Without them this is a very different game.
On the plus side, with the signing of Myers the Sox now possess the most evil facial hair in baseball. That’s got to count for something.
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