Samardzija, 'pen hit hard in loss to Mets

Samardzija, 'pen hit hard in loss to Mets

Samardzija, 'pen hit hard in loss to Mets
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija is smart enough to know when he doesn't have good command of his pitches, but on Wednesday, the Cubs pitcher couldn't make the adjustment fast enough.

Samardzija gave up nine runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Cubs' 17-1 loss to the Mets. It was the most lopsided loss since they dropped an 18-1 game to the Brewers on Aug. 2, 2010.

Samardzija (5-7) is now 0-4 with a 12.27 ERA in his last four games, and has not won since May 29.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't concern," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "The execution of pitches hasn't been good for four or five starts now. It could be confidence, it could be mechanical, it could be all of the above. The magic question is, which one is it?

"There's a number of things sometimes -- is it the concentration level, trusting your stuff?" Sveum said. "When he gets in trouble, he doesn't get strike one either. That's a big thing. Today, we didn't get strike one too often."

Samardzija wasn't pleased, and not just because of his own win-loss record. The Cubs had a chance to sweep the Mets.

"I want to win, especially after winning the first two games and playing how we played as a team," he said. "We played great baseball and our offense put up the runs we needed to put up and our pitchers did great. I'm not concerned as a whole, I'm just upset as a competitor and a teammate. ... Letting them down isn't what I'm about and it doesn't sit well with me.

"As a whole, you have to look at the big picture," he said. "There's things you need to learn and there's only one way to learn sometimes and that's to get kicked in the rear a little bit."

That's exactly what the Mets did. David Wright drove in five runs, Scott Hairston hit a grand slam, Daniel Murphy hit two home runs and Ike Davis added a three-run shot to power the Mets.

"The wind blowing out is scary, especially here," said Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese (6-3), happy to escape with the win.

Before the game, Sveum threw batting practice to his son, Rustin. He saw how the wind favored the hitters. He hoped Samardzija saw it as well, and he did. But for some reason, the right-hander was out of whack.

"The walks aren't acceptable, especially with the conditions we had today," Samardzija said. "If you're going to give up home runs, they have to be solo home runs. You can't put those guys on base for free. Every guy who got on for free scored. That's all you need to know."

He tried to make changes during the game, but couldn't.

"Early in the year, he was doing great," Chicago catcher Geovany Soto said of Samardzija. "I feel he'll come back to that. You always hit a little bump in the road. He's really smart. He'll make an adjustment. He's just in a little funk."

The Cubs' only offense came in the second when Luis Valbuena hit an RBI double, driving in Darwin Barney, who had singled. Chicago is now 4-17 against left-handed starters.

"We weren't able to get a couple up in the wind," Joe Mather said. "They took advantage of pitches over the plate and didn't swing at balls in the zone."

The Mets scored six runs in the fifth and added six more in the sixth. The 17 runs were the most by an opponent against the Cubs this season, topping the 11 scored by the Twins on June 9.

"It's a beautiful game -- there's 162 of them and you have to have a short memory," Soto said.

On the plus side, Anthony Rizzo continued to impress. Promoted Tuesday from Triple-A Iowa amid much hype, Rizzo went 1-for-4, hitting a double off the ivy-covered wall in right-center field with two outs in the third.

"He had some good swings today and was on every pitch and shortened up and hit a double off the wall," Sveum said. "He's doing fine. He hasn't done anything that we didn't expect so far. He's had a quality at-bat every at-bat besides the last one."

The last at-bat came with a runner on in the eighth. At that point, the Cubs needed more than two touchdowns to win. Samardzija, a former All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame, can relate to that.

"It's definitely a learning process for me," Samardzija said. "I need to make the adjustments on the field and off the field in between starts. All this stuff is being logged away and remembered for the future. It just needs to happen quicker."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.