It's Jeff Samardzija's own fault, mostly, that he didn't have a chance for the Cubs' first complete game of 2012.
Samardzija made a late break for first base on a slow roller by Andrew McCutchen in the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball, but by the time Samardzija made it to first base, McCutchen had beat him there by about half a step.
That was the only hit Samardzija allowed in eight innings. I'd think that even Dale Sveum -- who appears to be allergic to complete games -- would have let him go out there for the ninth inning if he'd have had a no-hitter going. Samardzija had thrown just 99 pitches -- 71 for strikes -- and, breezing along, it looked like he might be allowed to finish, except:
Samardzija didn't get chance at CG because of long, 27 minute 9th by #Cubs. Said Sveum: "I don't think I'm on his Christmas list right now"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 24, 2012
Well, I dunno. Sounds like an excuse to me -- so they had a long inning. So what? Shark was pacing back and forth in the dugout and looked extremely unhappy to not be allowed to finish. When Carlos Marmol came into the game, I -- and I suspect, all of you -- thought the Cubs were doomed to lose despite the insurance run they scored in that 27-minute inning.
Surprise! Marmol was sharp and effective, dispatching the Pirates on just 13 pitches. He did allow one hit, to Josh Harrison leading off the inning, but struck out two and threw 11 strikes in those 13 pitches, looking like the Marmol of 2010, and the Cubs shut out the Pirates 2-0, their first win on this road trip and the first win over the Pirates this year.
Meanwhile, Ryan Dempster is still a Cub, after reports Monday afternoon that he had been traded to the Braves for a package that might include Randall Delgado (which would be an outstanding deal for the Cubs). To sum up everything that's been said regarding why this deal hasn't happened yet, it appears that there was a leak -- likely from the Braves side, since Theo & Jed are very buttoned up about such things -- before Dempster could give his approval via waiving his 10-and-5 rights.
You can understand why Dempster would be upset about something like that. Will it happen today? We just don't know, and it appears to be up to Dempster. He's kind of in a difficult position now; presumably, he'd want to go to Atlanta and be part of a playoff race, and given the leak, it'd be difficult for him to now say "no", which would probably not put him in good stead with his bosses.
Something will happen today either way, because Dempster is scheduled to start Wednesday afternoon against the Pirates. Either he'll make that start as a member of the Cubs, or they'll have to slot someone else in there. Who would it be? If the deal is, in fact, for Delgado, he couldn't go -- that would give Delgado just three days rest since his last start, July 21 against the Nationals. Justin Germano could start Wednesday, although he threw three innings on Saturday, the same day Delgado pitched, so it might have to be someone from Triple-A Iowa.
As always, we await developments. Nice work, though, by Samardzija on Monday night; that continues an excellent July in which he's posted a 1.67 ERA in four starts, with 29 strikeouts and just seven walks in 27 innings (18 hits allowed give him a 0.926 WHIP). The Cubs will send ex-Pirate Paul Maholm against James McDonald at PNC Tuesday night.