CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija should have been a central figure in Saturday night's storyline. Instead, the Giants right-hander became an afterthought, significant for what he didn't do in the Giants' 5-2 loss to the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
Samardzija faced the team that nurtured him through his Minor League ascent to his Major League debut. Had he maintained his recent excellence on the mound, he would have revived the Giants' chances of capturing this best-of-five series. Game 3 is Monday night at AT&T Park, 9:30 ET/6:30 PT on FS1.
None of that unfolded. Samardzija disappeared for a pinch-hitter after two innings. "Rightfully so," he said, humbly. That was a shorter stint than any of his 32 regular-season starts. He allowed four runs and six hits, giving the Cubs a lead they never relinquished.
Samardzija stayed in the game long enough to endure ill luck. Opposing pitcher Kyle Hendricks, batting .138, blooped a two-run, broken-bat single that fell in front of center fielder Denard Span and fueled Chicago's three-run second inning that essentially settled matters.
"Games like this, you need those outs, and when they find a spot to land, there's not much you can do about it," Samardzija said.
However, Samardzija also lacked the sharpness he sustained through his final 10 regular-season starts, when he posted a 2.45 ERA.
"From my vantage point -- you'd have ask him what he felt -- but I think he just missed a little bit more with the fastball than he had been lately," catcher Buster Posey said.
Samardzija offered no excuses. "Obviously, there were some pitches I would have liked to have back," he said. "I don't think [my] location was all that bad. It was just that we'd fall behind on the count and I'd have to put guys away."
Samardzija denied that he fell victim to overexcitement. "I felt pretty good," he said after he fell to 0-2 with a 9.75 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs. "I didn't think I was gripping it too hard or moving too fast. I just wasn't able to find that rhythm or that groove."
Brief as Samardzija's performance was, it had room for irony. He threw a total of 47 pitches, matching his first-inning total here on Sept. 1, when he allowed three runs in a 5-4 Giants loss.
"I think it's fair to say that he was a little bit off tonight," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.