Nationals 7, Cubs 3: Shark Is His Own Worst Enemy

Patrick Smith

Jeff Samardzija hurt himself Friday night with his own fielding. You've heard this song before, I'm afraid.

Let's get the good news from Friday night's 7-3 Cubs loss to the Nationals up here first, so you at least start reading this recap in a good mood.

  • Three Cubs relievers who had pitched poorly previously all had good outings. Hector Rondon, Kyuji Fujikawa and Shawn Camp combined for three innings and allowed just one single. I was particularly glad to see Fujikawa come off the DL and show no ill effects; his velocity was good and so was his pitch selection. If he comes back strong, that will take a lot of pressure off the bullpen.
  • Starlin Castro, in his first game at the leadoff spot this year, had two doubles in five at-bats. Dale Sveum says Castro is now his leadoff man against lefthanders.
  • Ryan Sweeney had two hits, both off lefthander Ross Detwiler. I'm thinking this will lead to some more playing time for him.

Well, that's about all I've got. Have a good day! Drive safely!

Oh, wait. You want a recap of the entire game, not just the good stuff. Truth be told, if I just did the good stuff for each game this season, these recaps would be quite a bit shorter.

I've written earlier in this season that this team lives on very thin margins. They need to be nearly perfect in everything they do, because the littlest mistake can lead to a loss. That was the case in Friday night's game. Jeff Samardzija's fielding error allowed the Nats to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. It should have been a routine out, and a fly ball by the next hitter, Tyler Moore, would have ended the inning. Instead, Kurt Suzuki doubled in two runs to give the Nats the lead. Samardzija appears to have been overthinking:

"Originally I just wanted to go two with it and turn the double play," Samardzija said of the error. "Once I kicked it the first time, it just turned into one of those (where I) keep reaching for it and trying to hurry. I've got to calm down and just barehand it and try to throw it to first. That was my bad."

Right. Calm down. Make the play right. But somehow, that doesn't seem possible at the times it means the most for this year's Cubs. Even at that, the Cubs tied the game up 2-2, before Samardzija allowed a two-run homer to Ian Desmond in the fourth.

And even at that, a 4-2 lead in the middle of the game shouldn't be insurmountable, even for this year's Cubs.

But therein lies the difference between a good team, like the Nationals, and a not-good team, like the Cubs. Two fifth-inning walks and a single sandwiched around a double play gave the Nats runners on first and third with two out. A good team gets out of the inning. But Samardzija, having thrown more pitches than he should have due to his own fielding error, gave up back-to-back doubles and that, as they say, was that. With two more Friday night, the Cubs have allowed 19 unearned runs this year, tied with the Astros for the most in the major leagues. (That ought to make for a fun series when the two teams meet at Wrigley Field next month.)

The Cubs scored a consolation run in the ninth inning; the game wound up as the Cubs' fastest of the season so far, two hours and 23 minutes, which allowed me to switch over to the Bulls game just in time for the second half to begin. That didn't work out so well, either.

The umpires for this series are the same four men who made the bad call on the video review of Adam Rosales' home run for the Athletics Wednesday in Cleveland. Angel Hernandez, the crew chief, was booed when the umpires were announced. The crew didn't make any egregiously bad calls, none that were significant to the result, anyway, although they did miss a call after the outcome of this game was nearly certain. Ryan Zimmerman singled to left and was thrown out at second base by Alfonso Soriano; replays showed that Zimmerman was almost certainly safe.

Another day, another defeat. I'm thinking alternative recaps are in this site's future. The two teams will play again Saturday afternoon at 3:05 CT.

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