It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
- Paul Clifford
I bet you never really knew where that godawful phrase came from.
Now you do.
I thought of that purple, turgid, prose this morning as I was walking to the train and Mother Nature decided that my mood would be enhanced if, and only if, she rained on me so hard that my shoes squeaked.
Yep, that made me a happy boy.
It also made the ride into work an adventure in possible pneumonia. Because there is nothing more fun than being soaked to the bone and then sitting under an air conditioning duct for an hour.
But I was not the only person impacted by the weather.
Yesterday the Cubs sent first year starter Jeff Samardzija (pronounced “Smith”) to the mound and the Cubs struck like lightening to weather the Blizzard of Oz.
Carrie Muskat has the whole story.
If pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are both dealt at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs will then turn to Jeff Samardzija, who has the potential, manager Dale Sveum said, to be an ace on the staff.
“He’s that guy,” Sveum said. “He’s hopefully going to be that guy who we can build around and be the No. 1 or 2 guy.”
One aspect of his game that the right-hander needs to work on is keeping his pitch count under control. In the Cubs’ 5-1 rain-shortened win Wednesday over the Marlins, he made his team-leading 18th start, but did not get a decision.
Samardzija struck out nine and gave up one run on six hits and three walks over five innings, but was pulled after 97 pitches. He didn’t have an easy inning and left with the score tied at 1 after the two teams exchanged home runs.
No one on the Cubs wants to see Dempster or Garza go, but everyone is aware of the rumors.
“Not knowing what’s going to happen, you have to stay on your toes and understand tomorrow might be a little different,” Samardzija said. “I understand what my role is on this team and what it’s going to be in the future. I’m trying to do everything I can today, so down the road, when you are relied upon, you’re ready to take the reins and do what you’ve got to do.
“Obviously, I want to be the guy, but it also would help to have Garza and Dempster throwing in front of you or behind you. ... We have a good competition with each other, we expect a lot out of each other and we’ll keep going until we’re told something different.”
Cubs pitchers have helped, as they’ve compiled a 2.39 ERA in the last seven games, including a 2.81 mark by the starters.
Starlin Castro hit a game-tying solo home run in the fourth and Geovany Soto smacked a tie-breaking RBI single in a four-run seventh to spark the Cubs, who picked up their 13th win in the last 18 games.
“I think everyone’s doing their part,” Samardzija said of the recent success. “It’s just kind of what we expected from ourselves from Day 1. We obviously went through a rut where we weren’t playing good baseball. We’ve known we could play like this for a long time. It’s just about being consistent and showing up every day and doing your job.”
Wednesday’s game was stopped with one out in the eighth because of rain, and called after a delay of one hour and 17 minutes.
“We’d have had to waste another hour and a half, two hours,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “The umpires said, ‘We’re not going to wait that long.’ ... I think they did what they had to do. Unfortunately, we were down on the scoreboard.”
With the score tied at 1 in the Chicago seventh, Alfonso Soriano singled, beating a throw from second baseman Omar Infante, and advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout by Bryan LaHair. Soto then lined a single to left that bounced over third baseman Hanley Ramirez. It was Soto’s sixth hit in 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“Hopefully that snowballs into swinging the bat a lot better with men in scoring position,” Sveum said of Soto.
Darwin Barney then singled to chase starter Josh Johnson (5-7), and Luis Valbuena greeted Mike Dunn with a single to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker lined a double down the left-field line to drive in two, and David DeJesus added a sacrifice fly.
James Russell (3-0) picked up the win in relief of Samardzija, who was pleased with himself for not letting the game get out of control.
“The Marlins make me throw a lot of pitches every time I face them,” said Samardzija, who lost in Miami on April 19. “Kudos to the top of that lineup. When you put [Emilio] Bonifacio and [Jose] Reyes back to back, as a pitcher, you really have to make sure you keep those guys off the bases. Not only are you trying to get good hitters out like Carlos Lee and Hanley and those guys, but you’re also worrying about the guy on first base.”
Reyes led off the Marlins’ third with his fourth homer, but Castro tied the game with a leadoff blast of his own in the Chicago fourth, his eighth of the season.
Samardzija was able to limit the damage. The Marlins had a runner at third with two outs in the third, but he struck out Greg Dobbs. Bonifacio tripled to open the Marlins’ fifth, but also was stranded as Samardzija got the groundouts when he needed them.
“He wasn’t as efficient—first-pitch strikes were tough,” Sveum said “His split was OK, but it was a little bit short and bouncing and getting too far in front of home plate. Outs were a little tough for him, but he battled and did a great job and got the outs when he had to in the fifth.”
The Marlins had an extra out in the fifth as Soto committed an error on a rundown, but again, Samardzija didn’t flinch.
“After that rundown, I took a second,” Samardzija said. “That’s what I was happy about—just taking my time and not rushing and making pitches I need to make and understanding there was still a chance to get out of it. Things like that, you learn from it.”
And it should help him become a top-line pitcher.
Smarjy, as he is called by people who’ve never met him, is shaping up to be one of the many positives the Cubs will have going forward. I have said it before and will do so again; for all the pain fans are enduring this year, the team going forward is starting to shape up very well. When they fix third base, left field and get some pitching this team could be a lot of fun to watch.
And cheer for.
On the Southside, the White Sox battled the Red Sox for about a minute or so and then let a rookie pitcher discover why those big league hitters get paid the insane amounts they do. Scott Merkin was at the game and made sure to get poor Pedro Hernandez hammered on cheap tequila before sending him back to the minors.
It was the humane thing to do.
Even if Pedro Hernandez threw a perfect game or struck out 21 Red Sox hitters during his Major League debut Wednesday night at Fenway Park, the southpaw was returning to Triple-A Charlotte after the game.
Hernandez did pick up two strikeouts, retrieving the baseball after the first one, but otherwise he was far from perfect in a 10-1 Red Sox victory before 37,367.
The Red Sox (47-45) knocked out 12 hits and scored eight runs in four-plus innings against Hernandez (0-1), who took the rotation spot for Gavin Floyd, who has right elbow tendinitis. But it was Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez who combined for seven of those hits, while Ross and Gonzalez drove in all eight.
Ross launched a three-run homer down the left-field line and over the Green Monster to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth. He added another three-run blast over the Monster in left-center during a four-run fourth.
“I got to give him credit for being a good batter,” said Hernandez, through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. “It’s one of those, ‘I felt like I threw him a good pitch,’ and that’s what he did. Just one of those where he got it out of the park.”
“Cody Ross had a big night there,” said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, whose 2,000th career game for the franchise was less than memorable. “He got a couple pitches to hit and didn’t miss them and two three-run homers is big. It went sideways quick, but their guy threw well.”
Felix Doubront (10-4) gave up just one run on four hits over six innings. Following a 14-minute rain delay, the White Sox (50-41) knocked out three hits in the first inning but scored only once, on Konerko’s single to right.
“Even if they only might have scored three, four or five, he was pretty tough,” continued Konerko on Doubront. “It wasn’t a heartbreaker. It’s just crumple it up, throw it out and see if we can get tomorrow’s for the split.”
With his first pitch to Ellsbury, Hernandez became the 10th White Sox starting pitcher of the 2012 season. He also happened to be the 10th rookie hurler on the White Sox roster this year, the 12th rookie overall to appear on the 25-man and the seventh to do so with no previous Major League experience.
All of those facts didn’t add up in favor of the White Sox, who slipped to 3-3 on this 10-game road trip to start the season’s second half and watched their American League Central lead return to 2 1/2 games over the Tigers and three over the Indians.
Gonzalez added a run-scoring single in the first and an opposite-field homer after Ross in the fourth. But Ross did most of the damage.
“It’s just one of those nights where you feel like every time you come up there was runners in scoring position that had an opportunity to score,” said Ross, who made his first start of the season in the three-hole and produced his 10th career multi-homer game.
“He made them pay, and did a great job,” said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “With two left-handers in front of him and two behind him, he’s kind of sitting in a rocking chair and it didn’t seem like pitches were working as well against him as they were against left-handers. It was kind of interesting.”
This setback marked the first time a White Sox game was decided by more than four runs since July 3, when the South Siders pummeled the Rangers in a 19-2 victory. Boston produced a sufficient enough lead by the bottom of the sixth inning that Jordan Danks, Eduardo Escobar and Tyler Flowers were moved off the bench and into the game.
Left-handed reliever Donnie Veal gets the call from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Thursday’s series finale in Boston, giving the White Sox seven in the bullpen and Dylan Axelrod as the swing man. The Hernandez experiment didn’t work as well as Jose Quintana, who will start Thursday, or even Axelrod, but the White Sox will put this game behind them and continue to play the hand they were dealt as they work through injuries.
“You are expecting a lot to keep calling a lot of guys up and have them only give up one,” manager Robin Ventura said. “So, it’s one of those days. He’s got good stuff, though. That’s one of the things you see pieces of it in there. He’ll grow from it and learn.”
“That’s a bittersweet experience,” said Hernandez, who was acquired by the White Sox as part of a New Year’s Eve trade with the Padres for Carlos Quentin. “It’s one of those where you come up here and really get to see the talent of the players. I was happy to be here, but by the same token, I’m sad I didn’t help the team. So it’s something you learn from and keep going from there.”
Hernandez isn’t even a top 20 prospect for the Sox, let alone MLB. He was a warm body that was sent to eat innings and fall on his sword for the team. He did both admirably. The Sox need their front line pitching for the impending duel with Detroit for first place in thier division. Besides, with Quintana on the mound today, they have a legitimate shot at splitting this series. If they do that they will take a winning road record into Detroit which is better than not doing so.
New joke running around;
Why did Robin Ventura become the manager of the White Sox?
He realized he didn’t have the charisma to become an undertaker.
BA DUM DUM
Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal!
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