I really wanted to see this game. Two irresistible forces colliding to make this a grit my teeth, hit the ATM, and not take my accountant's calls for a few days, kind of event.
You have Pedro Martinez, one of the finest pitchers of this generation, making likely his last tour around the league. I've never seen him in person, and it seems like there's something wrong about not having witnessed the great one in person.
And Jeff Samardzija, making his first career start for the Chicago Cubs. This is what they paid for. This is where the hopes and dreams for Jeff lie. Would he shine? Would he find a way to get his team a win? Could he take the heat against the World Series champs, and cement his stature as something more significant than a nice reliever, in need of work?
Couple that with a Cubs team very much in need of a win, having lost four of the last five, and this may have been the defining game of the season.
What was the Cubs' response to all of this excitement and pressure? Implosion. Jeff Samardzija would get knocked around like a stumblebum, and the Phillies would go on to wear the Cubs out 12-5 on Wednesday.
And don't think that this is all on Samardzija, though he was terrible. The Phillies were standing him up, and wearing him out from the start, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning on some of the hardest hit balls that I've seen. I'll spare you the hyperbole, but let me say it like this; when you're giving up two easy triples, one of which is by Ryan Howard, you are getting racked.
It only got worse from there.
Shane Victorino would serve him with a two-run homer in the third, a blast into the cheap seats in right field. Then, the Phillies would erupt on the Cubs in the fourth, chasing Samardzija, batting around in the inning, and scoring eight runs in all, to make this whole affair sad.
The Cubs just couldn't stop the bleeding; hit after hit, first off Samardzjja, then off of his relief, Sean Marshall. It went like this all inning, until finally Raul Ibanez put the exclamation point on, with a three-run rocket off of Marshall.
Fortunately, Marshall settled down enough to hang around for a few innings, to keep from adding insult to injury by having to burn through the bullpen to boot, in this shoddy affair. But that's about the only good thing that I can say about the game.
Jeff Samardzija, your bus to Iowa is calling. I saw better work from the Cubs' Triple-A relievers on Sunday. This is probably a good time to talk about swapping him out for Justin Berg.
And as for Pedro Martinez?
Well, this wasn't the Pedro "I've got more pitches than a used car salesman" Martinez, but he was still a pleasure to watch. He'd hang around for five, before getting the early hook. There's really nothing that I can say right now past that he looked very, very hittable, and I suspect a more competent offensive team would have sent him to the showers even earlier.
It will be very interesting to see if he can give the Phillies something down the stretch, especially in their homer dome of a park.
Two quick side notes: Check back later in the media gallery for photos of last night's game. I think you'll really enjoy them. And thanks to smash! for providing the winning caption for our little Baseball Reference contest. And Cubbie-Tim, well, that White Sox Beer Guy bobblehead is waiting for you.