Jeff Samardzija is spending the 2012 season proving all the naysayers wrong.
I was definitely one of them, though not because I didn't think he could pitch. I thought he might be better in the bullpen (and the Cubs could sure use the bullpen help), and that he might not have the stamina to make it through an entire season as a starting pitcher.
Shark had another outstanding outing Wednesday night, throwing 94 pitches (60 strikes) and making it until two outs in the eighth inning; Rafael Dolis and Carlos Marmol (whew! for once, no drama for Marmol as he posted his second save with a 1-2-3 inning including a pair of K's) finished off the Cubs' 3-1 win over the Reds, assuring them of at least a split of this abbreviated two-game series and a split of their road trip.
But seriously, dude. And I'm not one of those guys who cares about hairstyles. Men and women should do what they want with their hair. But that hair just doesn't look good on you, Shark. Get a haircut. (The facial hair isn't really flattering either, while I'm at it.)
While I'm at mea culpas, let me move on to another one.
There's no doubt any more in my mind that Bryan LaHair is a major league hitter. Clearly, I was wrong.
There, I said it. (Hope that doesn't jinx him.) LaHair hit his sixth home run of the season Wednesday night; he's had quality at-bats in nearly every game he's played. He works counts, hits the ball the other way when called for, and has played improving defense every day.
He's probably hitting way better than he'll end up the season, but right now, he's probably the best-hitting first baseman in the major leagues. Take that, Pujols, Fielder and others.
Ian Stewart also homered Wednesday night; the two blasts put the Cubs in double figures in home runs with 11. No, that's still not very many; it's still 30th among 30 teams (one fewer than the Padres). Stewart also hit a couple other balls hard; his BABIP coming into today's game was .207, way below his career mark of .292. Eventually, that's likely to even out.
Nice game, Cubs. Looks like they found a starting pitcher and a power-hitting first baseman, maybe for a while.
Apologies for there not being a first pitch thread Wednesday night; I thought I had rearranged all the threads after the rainout, but for some reason that one didn't get posted. It'll all be right tomorrow, when Ryan Dempster comes off the DL to face Homer Bailey.
Kerry Wood is also expected to be activated tomorrow; there's still no word as to who will be removed from the 25-man roster to make room, though Randy Wells is probably headed to Iowa. Other candidates could be Shawn Camp or Scott Maine; Michael Bowden is out of options and he's been good enough that I doubt the Cubs want to expose him to waivers to keep him. Maybe they'll make some kind of move with the almost-never-used Lendy Castillo, who hasn't pitched in 12 days. Again, another reason why keeping a Rule 5 guy around is a waste of both time and a roster spot -- he never pitches, which also hurts his own development. I'd like to see the Cubs make some kind of deal with the Phillies so they could keep Castillo and send him to Double-A, where he belongs.
We'll find out tomorrow, and hopefully, the Cubs can make this a winning road trip.