Dempster Sizzles … Offense Fizzles – Cubs 1 Dodgers 2

Spring Training Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 1 Dodgers 2 – 10 innings
WP – Travis Schlichting (1-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-1) Save – None

The Chicago Cubs played the Los Angeles Dodgers for the third and final time of the spring … and for the third time, the game was decided in the last at bat.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill for his second inning of work after escaping a small jam in the bottom of the ninth. Samardzija gave up a long one-out double to center to Kyle Russell in the tenth. Samardzija then walked Juan Castro before giving up an infield single to Corey Smith. With the bases loaded and one out, Samardzija battled back from a 3-0 hole and struck out Gabe Kapler for the second out of the inning.

Orlando Mercado, Jr. blooped a single into left center just out of the reach of a diving Fernando Perez. Russell trotted home with the game winner and sent Q’s crew back to Mesa with their 16th loss of the spring. The Cubs finished with a 2-1 Cactus League record against Don Mattingly’s Dodgers.

The Cubs once again wasted an excellent outing by Ryan Dempster. Dempster got his work in and then some Tuesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch. Dempster allowed only one run on six hits in six innings with a walk and six strikeouts. Dempster turned the game over to the pen down 1-0 in the seventh and finished his afternoon throwing in the bullpen.

The Cubs pitching was not the problem Tuesday (John Grabow and Sean Marshall pitched shutout innings in the seventh and eighth) and the defense did not commit an error. Q’s offense struggled once again in Arizona and left runner after runner on base.

Chad Billingsley and company dominated the Cubs’ offense. Q’s crew struck out ten times while leaving eight runners on base. The Cubs finished the afternoon a pathetic 1-for-7 with RISP … and the only hit with runners in scoring position did not plate a run.

The Cubs only run Tuesday afternoon came courtesy of a Jeff Baker homer in the top of the ninth off Ramon Troncoso.

If the spring and past numbers are any indication, the Cubs do not figure to score many runs during the season without hitting the ball over the wall.

Ryan Dempster was tremendous in his fifth start of the spring. Dempster threw strikes and most importantly, he kept the ball down … Dempster recorded six groundball outs and just one fly ball out to go along with his six strikeouts. The Cubs defense turned a double play behind him to end the fifth.

Two of the Cubs six hits came in the first inning. Tyler Colvin reached on a one-out single. With Marlon Byrd at the plate, Billingsley uncorked a wild pitch. Colvin advanced to second and tried to score on a single to left off the bat of Marlon Byrd.

Hector Gimenez threw out Colvin at the plate. Byrd advanced to second but Carlos Pena grounded out to short (in the shift) to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster worked around a double by Rafael Furcal to start the first. Dempster struck out Xavier Paul but walked Andre Ethier … Dempster’s only free pass of the afternoon.

Juan Uribe fouled out to Carlos Pena and Dempster struck out Jay Gibbons to end the inning.

Dempster worked around a one-out single by Rod Barajas in the second … even with Baker and DeWitt failing to turn an inning ending double play. Dempster sat down the Dodgers in order in the third.

Eugenio Velez led off the fifth with a single to right. Billingsley sacrificed him to second and Velez advanced to third on a single up the middle by Rafael Furcal. Darwin Barney deked Velez into waiting to make sure the ball went into the outfield … and at the time Barney kept a run off the board.

Xavier Paul delivered a one-out single to center that plated Velez … 1-0 Dodgers.

Dempster got out of the first and third, one out jam, by inducing Andre Ethier to hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

With the way the Cubs were failing away at the Dodgers pitchers, it appeared the game would end 1-0.

The Cubs had a chance to tie and/or take the lead in the top of the sixth. Marlon Byrd reached on a two-out single (the Cubs first hit since Darwin Barney in the second inning) and advanced to second when Carlos Pena worked a walk. Geovany Soto walked to load the bases for Jeff Baker.

Baker lined out to a sliding Xavier Paul on a fly out to right center to end the inning.

The Cubs had another chance to at least tie the game in the seventh. Blake DeWitt led off the inning with a triple (the Cubs fifth hit of the game, first for extra bases). Lance Cormier then struck out Darwin Barney swinging and pinch-hitter Scott Moore looking. After Kosuke Fukudome walked, Don Mattingly brought in lefty Scott Elbert to face Tyler Colvin.

Colvin struck out looking to end the inning.

The Cubs “offense” struck out five times in the seventh and eighth innings combined … and seven of their 10 strikeouts came from the seventh inning on.

After Tuesday’s exhibition, the Cubs have only seven practice games left before every pitch, every out and every inning counts.

Box Score from MLB.com

Carlos Silva will face Gio Gonzalez and the A’s at HoHoKam Park Wednesday afternoon. Aramis Ramirez is expected back and Carlos Zambrano will get his work in at Fitch Park in a minor league game.

Quote of the Day

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

    Good info Neil. looks dim on the offensive part of the game for the Cubs. Going to be pretty tough for the pitching staff without runs on the board. Are they that bad with the bat? ERA’s for the Cubs look to be good this year,Dempster will push these guys behind him tto do a well as he does.

  • cubtex

    With no team speed or situational hitters, unfortunately I think we will see a lot of games like this! Can we start the Michael Young trade talks again?

  • studio179

    “Carlos Silva will face Gio Gonzalez and the A’s at HoHoKam Park Wednesday afternoon. Aramis Ramirez is expected back…”

    Ram is coming back just in time to play D behind Silva. Good stuff.

  • studio179

    “If the spring and past numbers are any indication, the Cubs do not figure to score many runs during the season without hitting the ball over the wall.”

    A very valid point. In other words, ‘same old same old’. It will be interesting how many ‘hit and runs’ Quade uses during April and May to set the tone.

  • Dorasaga

    Curious, how we fans come to disagree with talents. Here ia a latest report on two prospects the Cubs traded for Matt Garza:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/top-30-prospects-the-tampa-bay-rays/

    8. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
    Pro Experience: 3 seasons
    2010 MiLB Level: A-

    “Notes: Lee, 20, didn’t highlight the Garza deal but he has a shot at becoming the top talent acquired in the swap. The youngster produced a triple-slash line of .282/.354/.351 in 485 at-bats in low-A ball. He showed little-to-no power [...] At the plate, he shows good balance but his stance will not help him hit for power; his knees are turned in so that they almost face each other. He also doesn’t take much of a stride. Defensively, he shows a strong arm and good range but he makes youthful mistakes that should lessen with time.”

    4. Chris Archer, RHP
    Acquired: 2006 5th round (North Carolina HS)
    Pro Experience: 5 seasons

    “Notes: [...] Archer showed marked improvement in his control in 2010 while at high-A ball it sat at a career-low 3.24 BB/9 but spiked back up to 5.01 after the promotion to double-A. He also took a hit in the strikeout rate as it dropped from 10.20 to 8.61 K/9. It’s easy to see that Archer still has some work to do in double-A, but youth is on his side and he’s now in an organization where he’ll be given every opportunity to fully develop before he’s promoted to the Majors.”

    What I’m seeing here is a lot of “waiting.” Just wait. The youth will pan out. The flaws might be corrected. But who knows?

    The debate will never end, whether the Cubs should play certain veterans or certain prospects on their Major League roster. We can only rely on what we see, whether it’s stat, or Spring Training plays.

    One thing for sure, there is no definite answer. There are more than one way to build a winning team.

    • cubtex

      Interesting how Tampa is saying that Archer has a lot of potential but the ceiling of a #2 or #3 and how he still has some work to do in double A. Seems like he is still a couple years away at least.

      • Tony_Hall

        Once again, putting words in someone’s mouth. This article was by FANGRAPHS. I know it is a STAT website, that you may not know about, but it is not run by Tampa. Tampa isn’t calling him a #2/#3 pitcher, but then again, that is still pretty good. Also, most projections show him arriving this year or next to the majors. Not a couple of years away. This report, didn’t report expected arrival, so not sure why you are saying a couple of years. He will start the year in AA, The thing with the Rays, is they are loaded with a good young pitching staff. The next opening in the rotation happens after they find another sucker to unload their prospects for Shields this time. This is a smart well run franchise, who excels without the benefit of big payroll.

        • cubtex

          I apologize for stating Tampa(just read the report on their prospects) so didn’t see who it was by! Just stating what was said Tony!!!
          Once again another opinion(just like your full of) stating that Archer has a ceiling as a #2 or #3.
          Did I expand on that thought????
          Relax!
          Tampa HAS to run their team like this because they have NO choice!

          • Tony_Hall

            And yet, look how competitive the Rays are in the toughest division in baseball.

          • cubtex

            Hey Tony, I am not mad and sorry if it appears that way! I enjoy the discussions.

            Yes, Tampa has been successful for a couple of years. They have no choice to do it this way. Do I believe that this way can be successful long term? No, I don’t. It is very difficult to continually hit on prospects. They lost Carl Crawford and were hoping Desmond Jennings would be ready. He is not….he might never be the stud they were hoping so they had to band aid with Damon. Hellickson looks like the real deal to replace Garza…but when it comes time that they have to deal Price…they might not be so lucky. EVERYTHING must hit for this way to work. I heard Joe Maddon talking about how Tampa needs to have certain surprises each and every year to win. Like when they got Pena…he put up career numbers that weren’t expected. It is an extremely tough and difficult way to put up a winner every year this way.

          • Tony_Hall

            I enjoy the discussions as well.

            Honestly, if you evaluate how they do it, they can sustain this for awhile. The trade off players, that are not difference makers for prospects. They will keep the difference makers. Longoria, that contract alone should make them the envy of baseball. Price – they may have to trade him, and I would, but I would ride him all the way to the year of FA. This style will always give them youthful arms and a good supply of them.

            Don’t have time to get into it more, maybe later.

        • cubtex

          Read the article… Tony…Read!!!!! It says that they will give Archer every opportunity to FULLY develop BEFORE he is promoted to the majors. He will be in AA to start the season!

          Does that sound like he is 1 year away? Boy and to say that I am putting words in people’s mouth

          • Tony_Hall

            You said he was a couple of years away at best. I said that most of the prospect reports over the winter (almost everyone one was posted and discussed on the CCO) have stated Archer arrival time as 2011 or 2012. Tampa will give Archer every opportunity to fully develop, before being promoted to the majors. Many players from AA, skip AAA, when they are prospects on the rise. AAA is more for AAAA players that haven’t been able to stick in the majors, or older minor league players, that haven’t made it. So to say he is in AA and that he is still a couple of years away at least, is wrong.

            Also, why do you take everything so personal. Yes these are my opinions, or restating something else that was stated. We can disagree and still discuss things. You write like you are mad, that someone doesn’t agree with you. I for one like to hear other peoples thought, and when given a logical argument, can change my mind.

          • cubtex

            I actually said…..Seems like…….. not and an emphatic He is a couple of years away at best.

            Didn’t you feel the same way after reading that. They said he has youth on his side…and he still has work to do in AA, and they won’t rush him. Again, do you think that sounds like he will be up in 1 year?

          • Tony_Hall

            My first thought, was they are stacked in their rotation, and don’t need to rush him, like the Cubs would of done. I think he could get a call this year, if they have an injury, and will be Shield’s replacement, once they trade him over the next 10 months.

  • diehardcubfan

    Our offensive woes continue to highlight our inability to show discipline at the plate and actually take a walk.

    We will never learn.

  • Aaron

    Food for thought….just think of how refreshing it would be to hear this kind of stuff coming from the North Side:

    ********************************************************************************************
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/ct-spt-0323-white-sox-spring-training20110322,0,7524843.story

    Manager Ozzie Guillen intimated that minor league options won’t be a factor when the 25-man roster is finalized next week.

    “There’s no doubt in my mind, the front office will take the best team to Chicago,” Guillen said. “They won’t worry about (options).”
    ********************************************************************************************

    I would fall out of my seat if the Cubs pulled a move like that and took the best 25. It would be an event that has seldom happened throughout the history of the Chicago National League Ballclub.

    But the thing that gets me, is Guillen’s confidence in management that they will take the best team to Chicago, and the fact that he says ‘they don’t worry about options’

    And their actions speak even louder than anything Guillen could say….it completely backs up everything he just said. The fact is, Kenny Williams doesn’t play games with prospect rankings like the Cubs do. And I think it’s because they have so little success with prospects that they not only cannot honestly evaluate their own prospects, but they want to hang onto them and squeeze all the talent they possibly can out of them, before they end up using all their options. Meanwhile, during this time, they will often times refuse to bring up younger talent that have higher ceilings than these other guys, and will often times hold them down until they absolutely have to protect them on the 40-man roster, and then begin the process all over again.

    I mean, we’ve seen this EXACT thing play out right before our eyes numerous times the past few seasons. Jim Hendry’s roster management is indefensible. He is, by far, the worst GM in the league because of it.

    Here are a few players that don’t even belong near a 40-man roster at this point, but still remain due to contracts the Cubs won’t eat (while other teams will…and have recently):
    Hill
    DeWitt
    Fukudome
    Baker
    Berg
    Samardzija
    Silva
    Stevens
    Smit
    Gaub
    Perez

    That would be 11 spots for guys like…..
    Clevenger
    Carpenter
    Jay Jackson
    Moore
    Marquez Smith
    LeMahieu

    • John_CC

      Come on now, when crazy Ozzie makes the standard comment it is somehow infallible truth? You ask how refreshing it would be to hear Quade say that there is no doubt that the best team will head North. Isn’t that what they all say? It doesn’t matter what Ozzie or Quade or any manager says at the end of ST. And when Quade does say stuff like that then he gets railed for being a “yes man” and ridiculed for just saying what everyone wants to hear.

      I am NOT defending Quade or Hendry. But let’s be realistic, they ALL say this same crap about the best team this, and decisions are made based on that…blah blah…who cares.

      Let me know when you here a manager tell the media, “Well, I had a conversation with the GM and told him that X is really not playing up to his money and that the rookie Y has proved to be ready and, frankly I don’t give a damn about his super 2 status I want him on the 25 man, period!”

  • Tony_Hall

    I am completely shocked that we have little offense and our pitching staff is doing it’s job! Shocked I say!

    Isn’t that why many of us were up in arms for trading away prospects from our system to fill a spot in the rotation, when the pitching staff has not been the problem, it’s the offense folks!

    The old adage, when you give up the first run, “Well we needed to score one run to win the game anyway” well with this team, giving up a run in the first, is called digging a hole. Neil said it right, this team looks to struggle to score runs, without hitting the ball out of the park…and we know that the ball doesn’t fly out of the park in April very easily.

    The beginning of the season is an easy schedule, let’s hope the offense can score enough runs, to win some of these games.

    • cubtex

      So you would have been OK going into the season with a rotation of Dempster,Z,Wells,Silva and Gorzo????

      • Tony_Hall

        What about Coleman?

        I would have been fine with Dempster, Z, Wells, Cashner, Coleman with other options of Russell, Samardzija, Silva, Looper, Wellemeyer, etc.

        This is not they year! I hope that you can rub it in my face after the World Series, that I was wrong. But, what part of this offseason, or ST has made you say, this is the year.

    • cubtex

      Sorry Tony I wanted to add before I sent this..

      Did I put words in your mouth with that statement about the starting rotation?

      • John_CC

        Cubtex, you have some valid arguments to make, I tend to agree with you on the Garza trade, but only time will tell. A little unsolicited advice: try not to be so antagonistic, because Tony has valid and good arguments as well. And btw: you did put words in his mouth, I’m sure Tony would never have said that he is OK with a rotation that included Silva.

        • cubtex

          John, I agree I get a little antagonistic at times…I apologize. I was addressing his comment that the pitching staff had not been the problem and prospects should have been traded to improve the offense not a spot in the rotation. So, if the Garza trade never happened….and everything stayed the same with the pitching staff, the rotation would be Z,Demp,Wells,Silva and Gorzo……correct? That is what I am saying. No words put in his mouth. That is what the rotation would be!

          • Tony_Hall

            What about Cashner, Coleman? I think they would have traded Gorzellany this winter anyway, and Silva has the same chance he has now. Given a spot, unless he has NO good spring outing. Even then, he may be given the benefit of the doubt, and given a rotation spot.

        • Tony_Hall

          Silva’s ship should sail, but I think it would sink.

          I have believed all winter that Silva will make the rotation, but I wouldn’t want that. And look, he has stunk up the joint, yet he is still in the running. Amazing that a team like Tampa, moves out a pitcher of Garza’s level (he is a good pitcher, just not worth what we paid), and their rotation might have improved.

      • Tony_Hall

        These are the type of posts that are unnecesary. No you didn’t put words in my mouth, you asked a question. I have answered. I don’t take your comments personally. I just post my thoughts, and answer questions, that are out there.

        • cubtex

          Again I apologize if I come across mad….but to start off your comment to me as saying…”Once again putting words in someone’s mouth” when I mistakingly said Tampa instead of the author was unnecesary as well.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes it was, and I apologize for that.