Cliff Lee certainly wasn’t pleased with his opening-day start despite claiming a win.
Jeff Samardzija didn’t get one but was very happy with how his went.
As Lee looks to recover by remaining unbeaten against the Chicago Cubs, Samardzija hopes a new approach leads to his first win over the Philadelphia Phillies since he was a rookie as the first series in the 100th year of Wrigley Field continues Saturday.
Like Lee (1-0, 14.40 ERA), Chase Utley will try to continue his success against the Cubs after his two-run homer and RBI single keyed Philadelphia’s 7-2 win Friday in the first game of Wrigley’s centennial celebration. Utley, off to a 7-for-18 start, has hit .400 with 20 RBIs in his last 18 games versus Chicago (1-3).
Lee showed that kind of dominance for much of last season, finishing 10th in the majors with a 2.87 ERA, and posted a 2.55 mark in spring training but was far from sharp Monday. The 13-year veteran tied a career high by allowing eight runs along with 11 hits in five innings but still beat his former team as the Phillies won 14-10 in Texas.
"I don’t like being on the pitching side of that, but fortunately we outscored them and got the win, the main thing," Lee said after equaling his shortest outing from 2013.
The left-hander had one strikeout after finishing with 222 to rank second in the NL. Samardzija was fourth with 214, but he wouldn’t mind cutting down in that department with hopes of being more efficient.
That’s just what he did Monday when he went seven innings but only needed 89 pitches as the Cubs lost 1-0 to Pittsburgh in 10. Samardzija (0-0, 0.00) had three strikeouts, matching his lowest total from 2013.
"That’s what we’re looking for," Samardzija told the Cubs’ official website. "Obviously, we’re going to take a hit on strikeouts, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is keeping your pitch count down and getting your offense back in the dugout. That’s what we’re going to go for this year, is attacking the zone and making smart pitches and go for the strikeout when we need it."
Maybe that adjustment can help Samardzija solve the Phillies (2-2). He’s 0-2 with a 14.18 ERA in three starts against them, including two last season as he was tagged for 14 runs and 19 hits in 10 innings. His first major league victory and only one in nine games versus Philadelphia came in a 2008 relief appearance.
Lee, on the other hand, is 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA in seven starts against the Cubs, though his only matchup with them last year was a bit shaky. He gave up three runs – two earned – and nine hits with three walks in five innings of a 4-3 defeat Aug. 31 at Wrigley.
Wellington Castillo had two hits off Lee that day and he had a solo homer Friday, giving him a .429 average with nine RBIs in his last seven games against Philadelphia.
Cubs youngsters Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, meanwhile, are both 2 for 17 this season.
Phillies veteran Jimmy Rollins will return after missing two games following the birth of his second child. Rollins, who had five RBIs in the first two games, was in the original lineup Friday before being scratched due to an "internal miscommunication," according to manager Ryne Sandberg.
"Everything is fine," Sandberg told the team’s official website. "He’ll be good to go (Saturday)."