Game Eighty – Cubs 6 White Sox 8
Not only did the Cubs lose to the Sox, not only did the Cubs play one of their better games in recent weeks, not only did Ryan Dempster blow another game but the winning home run, a 3-run shot in the 9th with 2 outs, but the home run was hit by of all people, A.J. Pierzynski and no matter what you think of Pierzynski he puts his money where his mouth is. Not only did Pierzynski hit the game winning home run, he also threw out Ronny Cedeno and Juan Pierre attempting to steal, he was 3 for 5 on the day and will be named to the upcoming American League All-Star team….he is the White Sox version of Dennis Rodman….
Ryan Dempster blew his 5th save of the season, the 5th in his last 10 chances and it was his second blown save in the past week. The Cubs played a very good game against arguably the best team in baseball. Greg Maddux was on top of his game, put his team in position to win but Scott Eyre could not keep Paul Konerko in the yard in the 7th. Maddux received a no decision but the Cubs got beat again, at home, in front of the Faithful on a day that should have seen the “W” flag fly. Aramis Ramirez had his best game of the season and was close to being the first Cub to hit for the cycle since Mark Grace did against the Padres on May 9, 1993. Ramirez finished the day 3 for 5 with a double in the 1st that scored Todd Walker and Derrek Lee. In the 3rd, Ramirez tripled with 2 outs and in the 5th he hit a monsterous 3-run home run over the left field wall onto Waveland Avenue that scored Juan Pierre and Derrek Lee. Ramirez was responsible for 5 of the 6 runs the Cubs scored on Saturday, the other run came on the solo home run in the 7th off the bat of Jacque Jones that broke the tie and gave the Cubs the lead until the 9th. Michael Barrett and the pitcher’s spot in the order were the only starters not to record a hit. Juan Pierre had another 2-hit day and Derrek Lee added two as well.
Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez have really benefited from Derrek Lee’s return to the lineup. Pierre is hitting .413 (12-29) with 3 runs, 2 walks and a .485 OBP. Ramirez is hitting .310 (9-29) with 2 home runs, 7 RBI’s, 2 runs, 2 walks, a .355 OBP and a 6-game hitting streak.
While the Sox did hit Maddux on Saturday, Maddux should have recorded the victory and pitched well enough to win….exactly what he is supposed to do. Maddux gave up 4 runs on 10 hits in 6 innings but did not give up a walk and struck out 3. The home run hit off of Maddux in 5th by Jim Thome was a win blown home run. Maddux thought it was just an out and started walking toward the dugout. After the inning you could read his lips, “That was a 350′ fly out.” Maddux threw a 3 up, 3 down inning to start the game and looked a lot sharper than in many of his previous outings.
Scott Eyre gave up the tying home run to Paul Konerko in the 7th to lead off the inning. Both Eyre and Howry have not pitched as well of late as they did early in the season. The Cubs bullpen has always been an adventure and this season Ryan Dempster has been added to the ever-growing list of problems. Dempster came in the 9th and quickly started 3-0 to Scott Podsednik, Dempster collected himself and came back to retire Podsednik and Iguchi. With 2-outs and 2 strikes on Ross Gload, another former Cub, Dempster let a ball that Gload hit back up the middle get between his legs and Cedeno could not bare hand it to make the play. Dempster then walked Dye and Pierzynski stepped to the plate and crushed the ball over the right field wall.
The Cubs have passed the fragile point and are into crisis mode. This team has not played a complete game in weeks, everyday one aspect of their game has problems and the ultimate result is a loss. Ryan Dempster has always had control problems, ask any Marlins or Reds fan and they will confirm that statement. Dempster had tremendous success last season in the closer’s role and this year whether he has lost his concentration or confidence….that is up in the air, but the bottom line is his control problems are back. In his last 10 games, Dempster is 1-2 with an 8.44 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. But the shocking stat is in those 10 2/3 innings he has walked 8 and given up 15 hits….that is 23 base runners, more than two per inning. Over that period he has thrown 222 pitches and only 129 for strikes, don’t look now but that is VERY close to 50-50 balls to strikes.
A special thanks goes out to Ron Santo for the title of Saturday’s recap, Santo made that statement right after Dempster walked Jermaine Dye in the 9th. June was the first month in the history of the Cubs that they only won 1 game in a month that they played at least 10 home games. The Cubs are on pace to lose a 100 games this season for the first time since 1966 and this is only the second time in club history that the Cubs have reached 50 losses before the All-Star break, the other was 1962. With Saturday’s loss the Cubs are 22 games under .500 with Mark Buehrle going for the Sox on Sunday against Zambrano, like Santo said….”It never gets any easier.”