Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

Seventh-Inning Stretch Lineup, 8/24-9/2

This afternoon, Jeff Samardzija helps the Cubs kick off a 10-game homestand with the Rockies, Brewers and Giants. If you’re on your way to Wrigley to cheer on the new-look North Siders, here’s your seventh-inning stretch lineup:

  • Friday, August 24 - Glenn Beckert, former Cubs great
    First Pitch:  Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming, Pregame: Several other Olympic swimmers are on hand for a special recognition, including Peter Vanderkaay, Davis Tarwater and Cullen Jones
  • Saturday, August 25 - Fergie Jenkins, Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher
  • Sunday, August 26 - Tom Dreesen, comedian and Chicago native
  • Monday, August 27 – Buddy Guy, Grammy Award-winning blues legend
  • Tuesday, August 28 – Len Kasper and Bob Brenly from the Budweiser Patio
    First Pitch:  Elisabeth Moss, actress and star of Mad Men
  • Wednesday, August 29 – Umphrey’s McGee, popular rock jam band
  • Thursday, August 30 – Doug Bruno and Oliver Purnell, DePaul University’s women’s and men’s head basketball coaches
  • Friday, August 31 – Bobby Hansen, former Chicago Bulls guard and current Iowa basketball broadcaster
    First Pitch:  Fran McCaffery, University of Iowa men’s head basketball coach
  • Saturday, September 1 – Jon Lovitz, actor and comedian
  • Sunday, September 2 - TBD Chicago Blackhawks players
    First Pitch: Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks star

While you’re at the park, remember to pick up the latest issue of Vine Line and the collectible Vine Line Gameday Edition and scorecard.

Cubs catching fire

Cubs fans hope first baseman Anthony Rizzo will one day fuel the North Siders to a World Series title. While that’s unlikely to happen this season, it’s difficult to ignore the sizzling run the team has been on since Manager Dale Sveum inserted the prized prospect into the third spot of the batting order on June 26. The Cubs are 11-4 since Rizzo’s call-up, having won four straight three-game series and splitting a four-game set with the equally hot Braves.

During this stretch, the pitching has been as good as it’s been all season. Couple that with some timely hitting, and things are starting to click. Vine Line examined why the last 15 games have been such a successful stretch for the Cubs.

Offensive Resurgence: Alfonso Soriano is known as a streaky hitter, but he seems to be finding a more consistent groove. The veteran has hit .286 with three homers, three doubles and nine RBI since Rizzo’s call-up. Geovany Soto, who currently owns only a .189 batting average, has hit .257 with a homer and a pair of doubles in that time. And if you look at the team’s averages over the last month, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker’s numbers continuously appear at the top. They might not play every day, but they have definitely made the most of their opportunities. Johnson is hitting .440 in his last 25 at-bats, while Baker has hit .318 during the hot stretch.

Starting Pitching: Though Jeff Samardzija has struggled, the rest of the rotation has been the real difference maker for the team during the hot streak. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm and Travis Wood have gone a combined 9-1 over the last 15 games. In 62.1 innings, the quartet has surrendered a combined 11 earned runs (five of them coming in Garza’s July 5 start vs. Atlanta) and recorded a 1.59 ERA. The group has 46 strikeouts, or 6.67 K/9, while keeping the walks to a minimum (2.46 BB/9).

Anthony Rizzo: It all started with the phenom’s call-up. In his first game, he went 2-for-4 with a double and what would prove to be the game-winning RBI. He’s hit .356/.377/.627 in 61 plate appearances since. His altered stance has rewarded him with four homers, 10 RBI and just six strikeouts. While he’s crushing righties to the tune of a .429 average, the lefty is also hitting a respectable .250 against southpaws with a pair of homers. Many feared Rizzo woudln’t be able to hit lefties at the major league level. To say that Rizzo is carrying the team isn’t totally accurate, but he might very well have been the spark the Cubs were looking for.

Samardzija the All-Star?

For most of Spring Training, Cubs fans went back and forth over whether Jeff Samardzija would claim a spot in the Cubs rotation. But as the season rolls on and the numbers continue to add up, Samardzija has quietly made a case to earn another spot—one on July’s NL All-Star team. Though the Cubs currently sit at just 18-32, the former Notre Dame two-sport standout has been the anchor of a relatively strong starting staff. In 2012, Samardzija has:

  • a 5-3 record (the Cubs are 7-3 in games he started)
  • lasted through seven innings in four of his last seven starts and yielded no more than three runs in any of those outings
  • 65 strikeouts, sixth in the NL
  • 9.14 K/9, seventh in the NL
  • a 1.6 WAR (wins above replacement), in the top 10 for NL pitchers
  • a .70 HR/9, one of the 20 best in the NL (an impressive number considering the unpredictable winds of Wrigley Field)
  • a respectable 3.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP

Even considering Ryan Dempster’s solid start and Matt Garza’s high ceiling, the hard-throwing Samardzija has become the ace of the Cubs staff for now and likely the future.

Hot off the presses: Vine Line May issue featuring Jeff Samardzija

Baseball has always been about reinvention. Even at the major league level, players change positions all the time.

But few have done so with the regularity, and consistent success, of Cubs No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija. After an outstanding career on the gridiron at Notre Dame—and the promise of an NFL career as a wide receiver—Samardzija changed course when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs.

After a few up-and-down years, the 6’5″, 225-pound flamethrower arrived as a major league pitcher in 2011, posting a 2.97 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen. But there was one problem—Samardzija saw himself as a starter. So when the 2012 offseason rolled around, he headed to Arizona and dedicated himself to securing a spot in the Cubs rotation.

Five months later, Samardzija joined Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster as stalwarts in the Cubs biggest area of strength—their starting rotation. In the May issue of Vine Line, we look at Samardzija’s long road to the Cubs rotation, his mile-long competitive streak and how be became a more complete pitcher.

We also have an exclusive Q&A with the man who is reinventing what it means to play baseball the “Cubs Way,” General Manager Jed Hoyer. We go in depth about why he wanted the Cubs job (which he calls “the best in sports”) and his expectations for 2012 and beyond.

“If you acquire players who play hard—and we have a manager who is going to stress that—if you do the little things well, you always have that chance to catch lightning in a bottle,” Hoyer said.

Finally, we go inside the numbers with four key players—and the advanced metrics that explain why they are so important to the Cubs success.

This season, reinvent the way you get news from your favorite team by subscribing to vineline.mlblogs.com. If you live in the Chicago area, pick up the May issue at select Barnes and Noble, Jewel, Walgreens and Meier locations. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.

Mesa Cubscast: The lighter side of the Cubs

MESA, Ariz.–The Cubs have been working hard every day since they arrived in Mesa–on Thursday, manager Dale Sveum called the team’s effort “tremendous”–but they’re also building team chemistry and having fun. When you put 64 competitive athletes together in tight quarters, things are likely to get interesting.

A pitch for philanthropy

Illustration by Jerry Neumann, and story by Jordan Ramos. Featured in the upcoming September 2011 edition of Vine Line.

Several Cubs players have new boots in their closets, but these kicks are much more than they appear to be at first glance.

Randy Wells, Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Baker, Jeff Samardzija and Mike Quade are all part of the Boot Campaign, an initiative created by five Texas women that supports injured American soldiers. The inspiration came from the book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, in which author Marcus Luttrell recounts Operation Redwing, an ill-fated mission to kill a high-ranking Taliban official in 2005.

Wells was introduced to Luttrell in the offseason.

“When I went down to the charity event and saw how much this book touched so many people, I got it and read it,” said Wells, who wore the boots in spring training. (more…)

The Buzz: What’s your favorite water activity?

The weather’s been steamy in Chicago lately, so featured in the August issue of Vine Line, we asked a few Cubs players how they most like to spend their time on the water.

James Russell (pictured), LHP

“I’d say fishing. I’ll fish for anything, but mainly we bass fish. We have a pond near our house in Texas that’s stocked with fish.”

Lou Montanez, OF

“I boat and fish a lot in Miami. Shallow water fishing, flu fishing or saltwater fishing. I’m pretty addicted to it. I have a lot of equipment- but most of it was probably a waste of money. My wife tells me that at least.”

Jeff Samardzija, RHP

“Uh, I snowboard. It’s frozen water, I guess. I can ski and wakeboard, but I’m just really not that good at it. My water sport is more throwing an anchor out and floating around on the water.”

Music Issue extra: Cubs Countdown

Perhaps the next Wrigleyville Block Party, Aug. 19-21, could play this Cubs Countdown of top hits. (Photo by David Banks)

In honor of Vine Line‘s first-ever Music Issue this month, we thought it would be fun to see what the Billboard Top 100′s number 1 song was at the time of some of your favorite Cubs players’ births:

  • When Darwin Barney was born on Nov. 8, 1985, the country was jamming to “Part-Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder.
  • “Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell was the number 1 song when Ryan Dempster, whose birthday is May 3, 1977, made his first appearance in the world.
  • “Best of My Love” by The Emotions was the Billboard Top 100’s number 1 song on Aug. 30, 1977, when Marlon Byrd was born.
  • When Jeff Samardzija was born on Jan. 23, 1985, “Like a Virgin” by Madonna was the most popular song cruising through the airwaves.

Here are some more of the No. 1 songs on Cubs players’ birthdays:

  • Blake DeWitt, Aug. 20, 1985- “Shout” by Tears for Fears
  • Reed Johnson, Dec. 8, 1976- “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart
  • Casey Coleman, July 3, 1987- “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
  • Mike Quade, March 12, 1957- “You Don’t Owe Me a Thing” by Johnnie Ray
  • Sean Marshall, Aug. 30, 1982- “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Football Sunday

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgDes Moines–An overcast day at Principal Park today. I was commenting to Andrea Breen, Iowa’s manager of media relations that the clouds covering Iowa will most likely meet me in Chicago when I return tomorrow.

It was business as usual for these farmhands, most of them strolling into the clubhouse around 10:00. Poker chips lay strewn across a table in case an impromptu game might just break out during a rain delay. Clubhouse manager Cleo Welch was busy cooking breakfast–big fluffy pancakes, some eggs.

Five guys were taking early cage work with hitting coach Desi Wilson. Utilityman Matt Matulia, catcher Chris Robinson, and infielders Darwin Barney and Bobby Scales were all taking their hacks.

Andrea told me that when she asked the players to fill out a questionnaire at the during the season, the player teammates voted as the “most intense” was Scales. In the cage, that was evident.

Always quick with a smile and a guy who loves to talk about college football–especially his alma mater the University of Michigan–you’d never think Scales was that intense given his usually cheery disposition when we last saw him in Chicago. But there he was, talking and muttering to himself, motivating himself, trying to talk himself into squaring up the ball better and not swing a bad pitches. He takes his job very seriously, and after getting his first taste of the big leagues this year, he desperately wants to return.

Outside, the pitchers started throwing long toss; Jeff Samardzija looked relaxed, as did lefty James Russell. Playing a different kind of long toss was Micah Hoffpauir and Matt Craig. They were throwing the pigskin around a little bit.

DesMoinesDay2small.jpgAs a guy who was with the big-league club most of the season, Hoffpauir is in the awkward position of being a strong consideration for a call-up but he has put up mediocre numbers at Iowa.

“I don’t have any control over what happens in Chicago,” Hoffpauir said. “My numbers aren’t what they should be, but I’ve been working things out, trying to right the ship here.”

He has tried to prevent the impending Sept. 1 date from hovering in his mind, despite his eagerness to return to Chicago. Like Scales, when you get that taste, you want more. There’s something special when the skipper calls you in on that day.

“For younger guys, they probably aren’t even thinking about [Sept.1]; they’re just happy to be in Triple A,” Hoffpauir said. “But for some older guys, they might be a little more disappointed. But I remember when me and Koyie Hill went up at the same time. Pat [Listach] called us in. We both had been up once already, so he told us together. But Casey McGehee hadn’t been up yet. So when it was his turn, they called him in by himself to make it a little more special.”

It was Chris Robinson’s last game, too, chipping in a single for good measure. Afterward, he shook hands with every one of his teammates and coaches and set off to the Great White North and Team Canada. To a man, Iowa personnel and the team all said Robinson was one of their favorite players this year.

The I-Cubs took down the Redhawks again, 2-0, behind some fine pitching from Mitch Atkins, John Gaub and Blake Parker.

 

–Mike Huang

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Getting back the Phils

Slightly different lineup today. There was no full-field BP this morning because of the night-day follow-up, but several guys took some time in the batting cage, under the rightfield bleachers.

Theriot, SS
Fukudome, CF
Bradley, RF
Lee, 1B
Fox, 3B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
Baker, 2B
Dempster, RHP

Left-hander Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.13 ERA in the NL) pitches for the Phillies.

Fresh arms

Right-hander Justin Berg was recalled today, and last night’s starter, Jeff Samardzija, was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. With the injuries and extra-inning games lately, the Cubs can use as many fresh arms in the bullpen as possible.

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