Great things were expected of Jeff Samardzija going into the season and the same could be said of his opposing pitcher A.J. Burnett. Neither one disappointed but the effort from Samardzija was outstanding. Burnett gave up one crucial two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo that wound up being the difference. The story however almost went from being the great start from Samardzija to the way Chicago Cubs almost wasted that great outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Through eight innings Samardzija was cruising. There were no signs of him slowing down at all. It looked like he could have thrown 11 shutout innings, much less nine. But Cubs manager Dave Sveum decided to bring in his closer Carlos Marmol. I have heard of closer by committee but I think that usually means over more than one game. What happened in this one almost robbed Samardzija and the Cubs of a win.
Marmol came in to face the heart of the order which shouldn’t be a terribly difficult thing for a major league closer. He got one out and gave up one run so fast it made my head spin. I was already getting sick to my stomach over the wasting of the strong start of Samardzija. Sveum rallied however by taking out Marmol. I’m thinking as a closer that isn’t a good sign but it was the right move.
In the end it took three pitchers to get the final three outs while Samardzija had no problem getting the previous 24 all by himself. Taking out Marmol was the right choice; taking out Samardzija was not. The Cubs should consider themselves lucky to come away with the W in this one and might consider giving Kyuji Fujikawa the nod for closer until Marmol can get easier outs.