Surprising Pauir

Spring Training Game Twelve – Cubs 13 Royals 1
WP – Ryan Dempster (2-0) LP – Brett Tomko (1-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs dominated the Royals in every aspect of the game on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs offense pounded out 21 hits, 7 for extra bases including a home run; while Lou Piniella’s pitching staff held the Royals to only 1 run on 2 hits with 2 walks….only 5 total baserunners in 9 innings. Ryan Dempster surrendered the only run in the 3rd inning after sitting on the bench for a long time while the offense batted around and scored 5 runs in the top half of the inning. Kerry Wood and the bullpen were dominating and Michael Wuertz allowed the only other hit in 5 shutout innings. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect 9th to end the game.

Daryle Ward, Micah Hoffpauir, Felix Pie and Eric Patterson each had huge days at the plate. Ward was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, 3 RBI’s and a run scored. Hoffpauir was a home run short of the cycle; 3-for-3 with a sac fly, a double, a triple, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s. Pie was 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Patterson hit the game’s only home run, a 2-run shot in the 9th and finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with a walk, 4 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.

What will be lost in the Cubs offensive explosion on Sunday afternoon is the performance of the pitching staff. Ryan Dempster, without question, had his best outing of the spring. Dempster worked quickly in the first two innings, had very good location and was throwing his slider for strikes. Dempster cruised through the first inning, threw only 6 pitches, 4 for strikes. Dempster was more impressive in the 2nd inning.

Lou Piniella’s former closer retired the Royals in order on just 7 pitches….all for strikes. And in this writer’s humble opinion featured his best slider as a Chicago Cub. However the long top of the 3rd and an effect on Dempster in the bottom half of the inning.

Dempster threw 19 pitches, 9 for strikes and obviously struggled with his command. He gave up two walks, a double and hit a batter but a well-timed 4-6-3 double play ended the inning. Dempster recovered nicely between innings and retired the Royals in order once again in the 4th inning on 10 pitches, 7 for strikes.

Granted it is only Spring Training but Ryan Dempster has looked very sharp in his first 3 outings.

The only word to describe Kerry Wood’s performance on Sunday is….dominating. Wood’s fastball reached into the high 90’s, touched 98 on the gun a couple of times and his slider was consistently in the mid 80’s. Wood retired the Royals in order in the 5th on 15 pitches, 10 for strikes and ended his day with a swinging strikeout of Tony Pena, Jr.

Carmen Pignatiello went about his business again….just a boring 1-2-3 inning. He has yet to allow an earned run this spring. Pignatiello, however, might have competition for the last lefty spot in the bullpen after all. Neal Cotts threw a perfect inning and has not allowed a run in his last two outings.

Michael Wuertz pitched the 7th in between the two southpaws and gave up the Royals only other hit, a 1-out double to left by Alex Gordon. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect 9th….but two of his outs were long fly balls to the outfield.

It appeared the focus on Sunday would be the pitching with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome not in the starting nine….but someone forgot to tell the rest of the team. The Cubs put on a hitting clinic. They were patient, they hit to the opposite field, they ran the bases well and most importantly….never tried to force the situation. The entire team appeared very relaxed from the first pitch of the game.

A couple of quick notes from Sunday’s game:

  • Daryle Ward is in a zone
  • The Cubs must find a place for Micah Hoffpauir to play
  • Andres Blanco has a HUGE arm
  • Alex Cintron was 2-for-3 with 3 RBI’s, a bases clearing double in the 3rd

Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 5-7 in Cactus League play with the win.

Box Score from Sunday’s Game

The Cubs travel to Maryville on Monday for their second match-up of the spring with the Brewers. Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to start but he has been pushed to Tuesday….Zambrano will face the Brewers on Opening Day. Rich Hill will take the mound for his first start of the spring, third appearance, against Dave Bush.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein