by Bruce Levine-
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cubby occurrence of major proportions ruined a perfect day of nostalgia at Clark and Addison on Wednesday.
Leading 5-2 with newly anointed closer Pedro Strop on the hill, things where looking good for starter Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs top starter had not won a game, despite averaging 7 innings a start and sporting an impressive 1.29 ERA into game action. Leaving with the lead, the 29-year-old pitcher watched the bullpen give up 5 runs in the ninth in a 7-5 loss.
While Strop gave up two walks, a Starlin Castro error set up the pending nightmare of an inning.
“I tried to be to quick on that play,” said Castro “That is what happened on the play. It is impossible to make a (double play) with that guy running.”
Castro was talking about former teammate Tony Campana, who is one of the fastest players in baseball.
Later in the inning, Justin Ruggiano turned an ankle (MRI results Thursday) going for a fly ball down the right field line while the go-ahead runs came across the plate.
The mental mistakes and bad luck took the Cubs and Samardzija out of what appeared to be an easy victory.
“A big day for us. A lot of former players in the crowd. You want to show up,” the unlucky Cub pitcher said. “Everyone went out and battled and tried to get it done. it just did not turn out the way we wanted to.”
Samardzija has an 0-3 record, with a tiny 1.53 ERA. He has thrown five straight quality starts to begin the 2014 season.
Lack of run support had doomed him in the past. Today is was bullpen and defensive letdowns that led to his no decision and teams eventual loss.
“I am going out and doing my job,” Samardzija said “As a starting pitcher, you come out every fifth day. Regardless of what happens, you must have a short memory as a pitcher. You just go out there and keep competing and hope for the best.”
More than 32,000 fans saw the end result of decades of a baseball that continues to find ways to lose. A fancy Federal League jersey, a cupcake, and another unrealistic loss were all Cub fans were able to take away from “The Party of the Century.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.