Dempster and the Defense Dump Finale to the D’Backs – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 6

Game Six – Cubs 4 Diamondbacks 6
WP – Armando Galarraga (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-2) Save – J.J. Putz (2)

Q’s squad completed their first homestand of the season with a disappointing 3-3 record. Mike Quade talked about getting off to a good start during Spring Training … and splitting the first six games at Wrigley against the Pirates and D’Backs could not have been in their early season plans.

Ryan Dempster lost his fifth straight start at Wrigley with another poor performance. The Cubs pathetic defense did not help but Dempster was hit hard in his seven innings of work. On the day the Cubs lost 40 percent of their starting rotation, a win from the number one pitcher on the staff would have gone a long way.

The Diamondbacks racked up 10 hits against Dempster, four for extra bases, and took advantage of every miscue in the field. To Dempster’s credit he did not walk a batter but he retired the side in order only twice in his seven innings of work … the first and seventh innings.

Willie Bloomquist, Chris Young and Gerardo Parra torched Dempster and company Wednesday afternoon. Bloomquist notched two more hits, stole a base, scored two runs and drove in another in five trips to the plate.

Chris Young, who always brings his A-game when he plays the Cubs, turned in a 2-for-5 afternoon that included a double, a triple, two runs scored and two RBI. Young also turned in three web gems in the field that took hits away from Starlin Castro, Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin.

Gerardo Parra tallied three hits out of the eighth spot in the lineup and scored one of Arizona’s six runs.

The Cubs defense was credited with three more errors but committed more miscues than the ones that ended up in the box score.

Armando Galarraga held the Cubs’ offense in check for the most part. The Cubs managed only four runs against Galarraga and five hits in seven innings. Three of the Cubs four runs scored on home runs by Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.

Q’s offense had plenty of opportunities to pull out a victory but once again they left almost as many on base (five) as the number of hits they recorded (six). The Cubs finished the afternoon 0-for-3 with RISP.

The defense was really the difference Wednesday … one team caught everything hit in their general direction while the other kicked the ball all over the place.

Ryan Dempster’s ineffectiveness at Wrigley must be alarming to Jim Hendry and his staff. Dempster has struggled mightily at home for the last two seasons (5-7 in 16 starts last year with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, already 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP this season … 0-5 since August 31 with a 11.35 ERA).

Dempster retired Arizona in order to start the game on just nine pitches … but Armando Galarraga did the same to the Cubs. Dempster worked around a two out single by Melvin Mora in the second as his offense tried to figure out Galarraga.

The D’Backs broke through in the third after a leadoff single by Gerardo Parra. The Cubs caught a break when Parra tried to stretch a bloop single to right into a double. Kosuke Fukudome threw him out at second or it might have been worse.

With two outs and the bases empty, Willie Bloomquist singled to center and stole second with Chris Young at the dish. Young ended up hitting a sinking liner into left center. Marlon Byrd tried to make a diving catch but missed. The ball rolled past him and waited for Alfonso Soriano to make his way over and pick it up. Bloomquist scored easily but when Soriano tried to pick it up, he dropped the ball and Young circled the bases … 2-0 D’Backs.

The Cubs finally got a hit off Galarraga in the fourth. Marlon Byrd broke up the no hit bid with a single to right center. Aramis Ramirez then lined Galarraga’s first pitch into the basket in left … game tied at two on Ramirez’s first homer of 2011 (regular season and Spring Training).

Ryan Dempster could not put together a shutdown inning in the fifth. Arizona scored three runs on four hits (three doubles), a miscue and an error.

Gerardo Parra led off with a double to right. Willie Bloomquist (who had to hate to see the series end) singled to center on a 0-1 pitch. Parra scored, 3-2 D’Backs.

Chris Young hit a deep fly to left on a 1-2 pitch. Soriano got to the ball as he approached the wall but could not hang on to it as he brushed up against the vines. Bloomquist scored and Young took third when the relay throw from Starlin Castro got past Geovany Soto.

Kelly Johnson lined a double to center over Marlon Byrd’s head. Young scored … 5-2 D’Backs. Dempster retired Justin Upton and Miguel Montero to end the inning.

The Cubs managed their third hit of the game in the fifth.

Alfonso Soriano closed the gap to 5-3 with his third solo homer of the year in the seventh … all three of Soriano’s home runs have come when he led off an inning. Galarraga retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning.

John Grabow replaced Dempster and gave up a one-out solo home run to Miguel Montero in the eighth. The Cubs were down by three again but mounted another threat in the home half of the inning.

Kosuke Fukudome led off with a single to right and chased Galarraga from the game. Juan Gutierrez replaced Galarraga and got a lift from Melvin Mora. Starlin Castro ripped a ball towards the hole at short. Mora stopped the ball and threw out Kosuke at second. Castro reached and advanced to second on a single by Marlon Byrd.

Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases with one out.

Tyler Colvin hit the first pitch he saw to first. Juan Miranda stepped on the bag as Castro scored … 6-4 Arizona.

Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Marcos Mateo replaced a struggling John Grabow in the ninth. Mateo came in with runners on first and third with no outs and escaped the jam without allowing a run. Willie Bloomquist flied out to shallow right, Chris Young popped up a bunt to Soto (someone missed a sign) and Kelly Johnson popped out to left to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth against J.J. Putz.

The Cubs were the definition of a .500 team over the first six games.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs’ first off day of 2011 is Thursday. Carlos Zambrano faces Randy Wolf in the first of three at Miller Park Friday night.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt
  • Ripsnorter1

    What are the Cubs’ hitting with RISP this year? They are stinking up the joint with a lousy .224 RISP batting average. In fact, here are the RISP by game for 2011:

    2/10 .200
    3/13 .230
    2/10 .200
    2/7 .286
    2/6 .333
    0/3 .000

    Not much clutch hitting. Again. This year. Same. Story. As. Last. Year.

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,good coverage,although disheartening to say the least. To lose to these teams at a .500 pace will just not get it done. They must dominate these teams if they hope to make anything at all out of this season. Today seemed like they regressed to last year. Again I say Byrd is not the center fielder they portray him to be. He doe not cover all the ground he is hyped up to do. Invariably he holds up on his throws to the infield on hits to center. It occurs to me that he has a weak arm and gives up bases without throws. The ball that got past him was a prime example of an error waiting to happen. I cringe everytime he tries that and today it caught up to him. I think Soriono was more surprised than anything else when backing up the play and his feet were going faster than his head. Bring Jackson up now and move Byrd out of there.If Pena comes back move Colvin to left and keep Fukudome in right. Aram at third,Castro at short,Barney at second and Soto or anyone but Hill to back him up and then leave these guys alone. I don’t know what to say about Dempster,I had no idea of his record at Wrigley. I do know he was grooving everything today and should not have gone that far in the game. Quade for all of the press he has recieved on being such a great manager is failing…..daily

    • Neil

      Thanks Paul.

    • The Maven

      That revisits something I said in the off-season. Byrd can be admired for his hustle, determination, and playing the game hard. However, you see the back of his jersey or him horizontal far too often. While that will occasionally get you on Webgems, it’s not the foundation of a good defense.

  • Baron_S

    Once again … another stat stands out glaringly…

    After finishing bottom or 2nd from bottom of the league in Stolen Bases the past two season…. where are the Cubs now

    dead last with yes ZERO stolen bases….

    This team has average power and no speed whatsoever!

  • studio179

    I liked Neil’s recap. Some first week. It really does sum up this team being no better than .500 and more likely less than even. Now this team being down a couple pitchers is going to strain the pen. Coleman comes up and guessing Russell gets a start. I’m also guessing they call up Maine to take Russell’s spot in the pen. One problem is there are no long men down there to eat innings. So this could further expose someone like Shark.

    As far as today, Pitchers on the DL, bad pitching, bad defense, bad offense and bad focus. What a day in Cubland.

    I think Quade should hold practice on the off day Thursday. The travel is light going to Milwaukee, not the West Coast or anything. I understand slumps and occasional miscues. But no excuse for a few things in the bigs though. Pathetic ball handling is one of those no excuse items. Lack of focus and lack of hustle are a couple others. These guys have to tighten the defense up. Maybe the union rules forbid it or Quade is timid to call one and ruffle vet feathers, I don’t know. A good practice would not hurt.

  • Tony

    It’s gonna be a long season…