Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Smell of steel mills in the morning? Smells like victory to Cubs' Samardzija

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Maybe it's something in the water in Northwest Indiana, maybe something in all those decades of slag runoff that helped create an industrial-strength homegrown baseball hero.

Whatever it is, Cubs' ace Jeff Samardzija seems to think it had something to do with his career-best dominance of an opponent Monday night in his two-hit shutout of the White Sox.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Samardzija has proven his mettle in every big game he's started over the last two years, attributing that big-game performance boost to the stuff of No. 1 pitchers.

But is it more mettle? Or metal?

"I don't know, I've just kind of always been that way as long as I can remember," said the former Notre Dame football star of his big-game attitude after the 7-0 victory over the Sox. "Sometimes you can lull me to sleep with other games that aren't that important. That's something I've got to get better at as a player - that every day is the same, regardless of who you're playing or the situation."

For now, there's definitely nothing better than driving from Indiana, where he still lives, to pitch at the South Side park he used to go to as a fan when he was a kid, and in this case with all his family at the game.

"I love this place, man," he said. "There's just a comfort level when you get to sleep in your own bed and drive 15 minutes to the park and come play.

"You've got the smell of the steel mills in the background. It's not the most beautiful scent in the world. But it smells like home."

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on May 27, 2013 10:26 PM.

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