Game Forty-Five – Cubs 4 Marlins 5
For the second time in his last three save opportunities, Ryan Dempster could not hold the lead and the Marlins came back in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Cubs. The Marlins were 0-24 before Tuesday night when trailing after 8 innings. Dempster gave up a leadoff single to Wes Helms, walked Hanley Ramirez, after a sacrifice bunt by Dan Uggla advanced the runners, Dempster intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera and with 2 outs Dempster left a breaking ball out over the plate and Mike Jacobs drilled it into the gap in left center to score Ramirez and Cabrera….game over.
Kerry Wood did not pitch very well at all but he did just enough on the mound and at the plate to put the Cubs in line for the win. The difference in the ballgame, even at the end was walks, granted the intentional walk to Cabrera was the right call, but what about the other 8 free passes Cubs pitching allowed on Tuesday night? Kerry Wood started the game by walking Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla, but he settled down, did not allow a hit and got out of trouble. Woody was having trouble with his control on Tuesday and was behind most of the hitters he faced. In the bottom of the 3rd, Wood walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning, he quickly stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a fly out to Jacque Jones in right field. Jones made a good throw, but it hit Ramirez and Aramis Ramirez could not make the play. Miguel Cabrera had a great night and he stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Ramirez. The Marlins put a run on the board with good fundamental baseball and without the benefit of a hit.
After only allowing a walk in the 4th, Wood went out for the 5th inning and retired the first 2 batters of the inning….at that point Wood had only allowed 1 run and 1 hit. He walked Dan Uggla on 4 pitches and then gave up a 2-run opposite field home run to Miguel Cabrera. Wood struck out Josh Willingham to end his evening. He finished the night going 5 innings, he allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, walked 5 and struck out 3 on 86 pitches….49 for strikes.
Kerry Wood did what he was supposed to do….put his club in a position to win the ballgame. He had control problems and walked too many, but the bottom line is he did his job and started consecutive games….something that many wondered if he would be able to do. If the Cubs have thoughts of pulling this season out, they have to win games like this….
Will Ohman, Scott Williamson, Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre all pitched ahead of Dempster on Tuesday night and held the lead for Kerry Wood. Williamson had control problems and gave up back-to-back walks that loaded the bases, but he got Hanley Ramirez to swing at the first pitch and lineout to Ronny Cedeno to end the inning. Scott Eyre had location problems as well, but did strikeout 3 of the 4 batters he faced.
Ryan Dempster could not find the strike zone and when he did it was left out over the plate and he blew his 2nd save of the season. The Cubs have a lot of problems this season and unfortunately Dempster’s lack of appearances might be affecting him….no one will take this harder than Ryan Dempster.
Cubs’ pitching has now allowed 207 walks on the season, last in the National League, the Florida Marlins are next to last in the National League in walks allowed with 189. Walks have killed the Cubs all season and yet they have only taken 114, again last in the league right ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates with 119, the Reds have taken 205 free passes on the season.
Michael Barrett had a tremendous night and with his first two trips to the plate resulting in a triple and a home run, there were actually thoughts of a possible cycle for the Cubs catcher….that did not happen and the last time it did for the Cubs was Mark Grace in 1993.
Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre, and Aramis Ramirez were 0-12 and left 5 on base. Aramis struck out twice and swung at balls way out of the strike zone on both occasions. The Cubs did manage to score in three consecutive innings and manufactured a run with 2 outs in the 2nd inning thanks to Kerry Wood.
Michael Barrett led off the 2nd with a triple, Aramis Ramirez struck out, Matt Murton walked and after Jacque Jones joined Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno singled to center to score Barrett. Murton later scored on Kerry Wood’s single to center. Matt Murton added a solo shot to right and Barrett went deep to left for the other 2 runs on Tuesday night in South Florida. The young Marlins’ bullpen held the Cubs after Scott Olsen departed in the 5th and the Cubs did not have a base runner in the last 4 innings of the ballgame.
Greg Maddux goes to the hill for the Cubs at noon on Wednesday….can they finish .500 on the season against a very young energetic club, that is basically a AAA team with a good manager….