Following an impressive June, this month has been a struggle for
Miami Marlins starter Josh Johnson.
Jeff Samardzija, meanwhile, is once again starting to look
comfortable for the Chicago Cubs following a disastrous start to
Johnson tries to bounce back from another rough outing Wednesday
night when he squares off against Samardzija, who will be facing a
Marlins team that appeared to get its offense on track in the
After combining for eight runs while splitting a four-game set
with NL East-leading Washington following the All-Star break, Miami
(44-46) pounded out 12 hits in Tuesday’s 9-5 win at Chicago. Omar
Infante went deep – one of his three hits – and Hanley Ramirez
added his 14th homer, but the game’s biggest blast was Carlos Lee’s
17th career grand slam. The Marlins, nine games out of first, won
their sixth straight over the Cubs (36-53), who suffered their
first loss in five games.
“We got big hits,” said the Marlins’ Ozzie Guillen, managing in
Chicago for the first time since leaving the White Sox. “Carlos has
been taking over in RBI situations, doing a tremendous job going
after it and bringing those guys in. We’re going to need more than
Lee increased his RBI total to seven in his last four games, and
his first homer with the Marlins fittingly came at Wrigley Field.
The longtime nemesis of Cubs pitching has 24 homers at Wrigley – 13
more than he has as a visitor at any other ballpark.
He is batting .333 with 11 RBIs in 13 games at Wrigley since the
start of last season, and is 4 for 9 with a homer off Samardzija
(6-8, 4.71 ERA).
Samardzija has been throwing the ball well lately, yielding four
runs over 14 innings in his two starts this month. That’s a stark
contrast to his final four June starts – all losses – when he
compiled a 12.27 ERA.
“I really like how the ball’s coming out and I mixed my pitches
well,” the right-hander said after allowing three runs in seven
innings of a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets on July 7.
While Samardzija is encouraged with the way he is throwing, the
same can’t be true for Johnson (5-6, 4.28), who allowed five runs
and a career high-tying 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of Friday’s 5-1
loss to the Nationals. The right-hander has an 8.71 ERA in his two
starts this month after posting the NL’s fifth-best June ERA at
He’ll be facing a Cubs team that squandered several scoring
chances in the opener, leaving 10 men on base.
“We didn’t get the big hit, in those good moments,” said
Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who was hitless in five
at-bats. “I hope that (Wednesday) we have those chances and get the
It could be tough for Soriano to deliver.
He is 1 for 24 with seven strikeouts in his last seven games
against the Marlins, and is batting .125 with a double in 16 career
at-bats against Johnson, who has a 3.44 ERA without a decision in
three career starts against the Cubs.
Johnson gave up two runs in seven innings of the Marlins’ 5-2
comeback win over Chicago on April 17.
Two days after that game, Samardzija yielded five runs, eight
hits and five walks in 3 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss in Miami.
Ramirez and Logan Morrison each had two hits off him.