Samardzija's fastball hit hard

The only thing you need to know about Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija's 11-hit, nine-run performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday is this:

Not one Phillie batter -- among the 22 he faced in his 3 1/3 innings pitched -- swung and missed at a pitch. Samardzija did get three strikeouts, but two came by called strike and the other was a bunt attempt that went foul. Samardzija wasn't getting anything past anyone who was swinging Thursday.

"They put the bat on the ball, I thought I was in the zone," Samardzija told MLB.com afterward. "I had runners on in every inning after that first one, so too many balls in the zone and they didn't take the fastball."

They weren't taking the fastball because it was too easy to hit. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Phillies' hitters were 8-for-12 in at-bats ending in a fastball. It's the most hits he has allowed via the fastball in his career.

"Not what the doctor was ordering today," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said to the MLB website. "He just really didn't have anything. No split, obviously the fastball was flat and got hit hard. Mistakes changed the game around and unfortunately things just didn't go that well and we need some length from a starter soon."

Samardzija's shortest outing of the season had anything but length. His fastball was slightly down from his season average of 94.6 mph. After throwing 174 innings last season, the Cubs shut down Samardzija for the final three weeks. He's determined to finish the entire year strong this time.

Could Thursday's outing be a sign of a pitcher tiring? It's doubtful considering Samardzija has thrown only 153 innings this season. And before Thursday, Samardzija had been throwing fairly well, going six and seven innings in his previous two starts. Thursday's performance was a head scratcher.

"It's one of those games you have to go back and look at the tape and break down what was happening," he said.

While Samardzija waits and works on a long-term contract extension, Cubs fans are waiting for him to emerge as a true elite pitcher. At 6-11 with a 4.23 ERA this season, he isn't quite there yet.

"Lot of questions to answer after today," Samardzija said.