Jeff Samardzija reacts during Friday’s game. | Associated Press

Jeff Samardzija continues to struggle at worst time for White Sox

SHARE Jeff Samardzija continues to struggle at worst time for White Sox
SHARE Jeff Samardzija continues to struggle at worst time for White Sox

This isn’t why the White Sox kept Jeff Samardzija. They saw him carrying his strong July into August, helping propel the Sox from the fringe of the AL wildcard race to the front of a crowded pack.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

Facing his former team for the first time, Samardzija went six innings, allowing sixruns, nine hits, and threehome runs as the Sox lost 6-5 on Friday to the Cubs. It was yet another poor outing for Samardzija (8-8), who has struggled since the Sox decided to hold onto the pending free agent.

He’s allowed 22earned runs in three starts this month, and on Friday surrendered a pair of homers to Chris Coghlan and another to Anthony Rizzo on his way to dropping his third August decision.

“It hurts, man. I take things personally. I enjoy having success. I enjoy doing well,” Samardzija said. “But you have to understand that the work you’re doing is always good work. You keep working hard and keep trying to fix what you feel like you’re doing wrong. We got another one in four days, we’ll be out in Anaheim, and we’ll go out and attack them, another great team, and do our job.”

He didn’t do it well enough against the Cubs, the team he played for over parts of seven years until he was part of a trade to Oakland last year that brought back Addison Russell.

While Russell looks set as the Cubs’ shortstop, the Athletics traded Samardzija to the Sox last offseason. Now the Cubs have beaten Samardzija as he approaches free agency, and as his struggles continue at the worst time for the Sox.

At the deadline, theywere only on the outskirts of the playoff race. True, they had won seven of eight entering play July 31, but with that hot streak they were only two below .500 and held onto Samardzija instead of dealing him for prospects.

Now they’re back to five under. They’re squandering time to make up the ground they lost during the first half as they try to climb over a host of teams for a somewhat-unlikely playoff appearance.

And Samardzija’s struggles aren’t helping.

“I feel great, I feel like my pitches are there. It’s just a couple swings of the bat here and there that are getting me, and in big situations,” Samardzija said. “We need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep improving, and we’ll be fine. It’s just one of those little stretch runs in the season that you have to fight through and then before you know it, you’ll be on the other side of the coin.”

That time certainly wasn’t Friday. Facing the streaking Cubs with five left-handed hitters at a hot U.S. Cellular Field, Samardzija needed to keep the ball from the middle of the plate.

He didn’t, and his command again wasn’t what it needed to be.

“Why? I think probably a release point somewhere that he’s over there. He goes through periods where he throws the ball well, spots it on the corners,” Robin Ventura said. “I think there are times where he gets the middle of the plate, and when you get the middle of the plate in the wrong counts it’s going to cost you.”

It did against Samardzija’s former team.

“You approach every game as an important game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Samardzija said. “Obviously it was a little different playing against some of those guys and being on the team for so long. But there were a lot of new faces and they’re playing good baseball right now.”

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