- David Banks/Getty Images
- Jeff Samardzija leaves an April game against the Diamondbacks in the eighth with a 5-2 lead. The Cubs lost, 7-5.
The White Sox and Cubs square off this week, and I’ve got my bets down with two poker buddies who happen to be Cubs fans. I grew up in Sox territory, the south side, and my friends are from Cubs country, Iowa and Indiana.
The teams meet at Wrigley Field tonight and tomorrow night, and at the Cell the following two evenings. It looks like an even series. The Cubs have struggled more than the Sox this year—but the south-siders’ starting rotation, riddled with injuries, features Some Guy You Never Heard Of and Undecided.
Tonight’s game is especially tough to call. On the one hand, you’d have to favor the Cubs because their ace, Jeff Samardzija, will be on the hill. On the other hand, Samardzija can’t buy a win no matter how splendidly he pitches.
Samardzija has started six times this season, gone deep into every game, and his ERA is a sparkling 1.98. A pitcher doing that well could easily be 4-0. Samardzija is 0-3. In his final six starts of 2013, he was 0-2. He last won on Aug. 24, 2013; since then, he’s 0-5 with seven no-decisions.
Either the Cubs don’t hit for Samardzija, or he leaves the game with the lead and the bullpen squanders it. Everyone knows he’s going to be traded, but you’d think his teammates wouldn’t treat him like the enemy just yet. Or maybe he’s suffering from pre-ex-Cubs factor.
Jose Quintana starts for the Sox tonight. How games begin hasn’t mattered as much for the Sox as how they’ve ended. The bullpen has blown a few leads, but the south-siders have also had several triumphant last-inning rallies. Cubs fans, take note: if your team leads by only a run or two in the ninth, beware of a Cuban missile attack.
- AP Photo/Mark Duncan
- Dayan Viciedo slams a game-winning three-run homer in the ninth yesterday at Cleveland.
On April 13, the Sox trailed the Indians 3-2 at the Cell with one out in the ninth, one on, and Alexei Ramirez, the shortstop from Cuba, at the plate. Bam. Final, 4-3 Sox.
On April 26, the Sox trailed the Rays 6-5 at the Cell with two outs in the ninth, bases loaded, and Jose Abreu, the first baseman from Cuba, hitting. Pow. Final, 9-6 Sox.
Yesterday, the Sox were behind 3-1 in Cleveland with one out in the ninth, two aboard, and Dayan Viciedo, the right fielder from Cuba, batting. Boom. Final, 4-3 Sox.