CHICAGO | At about the same time Saturday when Valparaiso's Jeff Samardzija prepared himself for another bid at the Cubs starting rotation, Bob Brenly pulled the plug on his candidacy for the manager's job.
Those comings and goings were as newsworthy as the Cubs' 7-3 victory over their arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals, marred by a Sam Fuld liner that struck Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth near his mouth and sent him to the hospital.
The win lifted the managerial record of Mike Quade, a candidate for the permanent job in 2011, to 19-10. In recording his 35th save Saturday, Carlos Marmol set a franchise record for relievers with his 131st strikeout, besting Bruce Sutter's 1977 mark by two.
Samardzija will try to garner Quade's 20th victory today in only his second-ever Wrigley Field start. The former Notre Dame football star has made three road starts since his first big-league start Aug. 12, 2009 at home. He has won his previous two starts this season with 5 2/3 shutout innings in St. Louis on Sept. 13 and six-innings of three-run, three-hit pitching in Miami on Sept. 19.
Samardzija is working with an altered delivery as a starter this season. He stands on an angle as he toes the rubber.
"It's just being comfortable out there," he said. "Ultimately that's what it comes down to."
Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said the alteration was made to allow Samardzija to achieve "better balance" in his delivery. However, it remains a work in progress. One scout who has seen Samardzija start this season said his mechanics remain a "little stiff."
Samardzija's first home start last season was during a night game. He's excited about working the Cubs' home season finale against the Cardinals and try to get Albert Pujols out as he did in St. Louis.
"It's crazy -- you do watch him as a kid growing up, then you get to go out and face him," he said of Pujols. "It will be fun doing it a second time."
He may have to be satisfied with the outing in front of family and friends. Quade cannot promise one more start in the season's final series in Houston next weekend.
"It's been great and nice to stay in a good rhythm," Samardzija said. "They've been giving me a good heads-up when I'm going to be on the mound so I can adjust my schedule accordingly."
Both Samardzija and Brenly could be with the Cubs again in 2011 -- but Brenly would remain in the TV booth if he does not land a managing job elsewhere. After getting in contention for the job with a planned interview with general manager Jim Hendry in the next week, Brenly took himself out of the running.
"I had a conversation with Jim (Friday) and I officially withdrew my name from consideration for this job," he said. "It was with all due respect to the organization, to the Ricketts family and to Jim, but I just didn't feel at this particular time that this was a good fit for me.
"I said all along that I'd love to get back on the field if the situation was right but for personal and professional reasons, I just think this is not the right time for me."
Although Brenly is considered an outstanding candidate based on his 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks World Series championship, he might be an awkward fit after having ripped Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez on the air. He also called the Cubs a "dead-ass" team on June 25 when Carlos Zambrano had his dugout tirade at U.S. Cellular Field.
Some believe Brenly would be daffy for giving up a stress-free job for the thankless task of reviving the Cubs.
"I love my job," he said of his analyst's work. "Certainly that's a big part of it. I feel that Len (Kasper) and I have really grown over the last five years. I love what I'm doing up there on a daily basis. I have no headaches, the food is good and the beer is cold every night, regardless of whether the team wins or loses, and that's not always the case when you're sitting down here in the dugout."