By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija lowered his ERA to an MLB-best 1.46 with seven shutout innings against the Yankees on Wednesday and appeared on pace for his first win since last Aug. 24, but another Cubby occurrence led to his sixth no-decision in 10 starts. The luckless rotation ace saw a 2-0 ninth inning lead evaporate in the hands of the bullpen, as closer Hector Rondon blew the save and the Yankees went on to win 4-2 in 13 innings.
The same drill went on for the stoic Samardzija after the game. By now people should realize he won’t fold up because of lack of run support, but it’s nevertheless hard to take.
“Hey, I have a lot left,” Samardzija said. “I feel good and you take it how it goes. In the end, things usually even out. I just go out and do my work. You have to have faith in your bullpen, too.”
Manager Rick Renteria was toasted by media critics for allowing Samardzija to throw 126 pitches on May 5. It appears now the Cubs are keeping his pitch count low on purpose. Renteria ended Samardzija’s day after only 95 pitches on Wednesday. In his previous two starts, Samardzija threw 89 and 98 pitches.
“I like to throw a lot of pitches,” Samardzija said. “Obviously, it is start to start and we will assess the situation the next time. (We will see ) how the bullpen is and how I am feeling and go from there.”
People like Samardzija don’t get down on teammates for a lack of execution. Samardzija saw examples of poor behavior by teammates in the past (Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza) and has gone the other way in support of people who have failed to produce when he is pitching.
“We are not wasting anything,” Samardzija said. “Modern technology (advanced statistics) makes it so everything gets seen. I don’t think it is any secret what I have been doing. I can get better … I want to keep building on that. I am 10 starts in and have another handful to go. I just will keep trying to do it.”
Samardzija’s ominous comments were directly related to his contract dispute with the Cubs. He wants to get paid like a No. 1 pitcher for now and the next five or six years. The Cubs are not sure he’s a $20-million-a-year pitcher. When Samardzija says”another handful to go,” he appears to be assuming he will be traded by the July 31 deadline.
When Samardzija was asked to clarify if his technology comments alluded to other teams evaluating him for trades, he had only one comment.
“Bingo,” Samardzija responded.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.