A Quality Start … and an Even Better Finish – Cubs 4 Dodgers 1

Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 4 Dodgers 1
WP – Kerry Wood (1-1) LP – Jonathan Broxton (1-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (8)

wflag.jpgTwo of the players the Cubs have been waiting on to perform this season finally showed up Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. After a bad start to the game, Ryan Dempster celebrated his 34th birthday with his best outing of the season.

Dempster’s night began on an extremely negative note. Dempster issued back-to-back walks to Jamey Carroll and Jerry Sands on eight pitches. After Andre Ethier grounded into a 4-6-3 double play Dempster settled down, found a groove and put together his first quality start of the year.

Ryan Dempster appeared to gain confidence as the game progressed. Dempster retired nine in a row at one point and reached the 40-pitch mark after three innings. He allowed only one run on six hits in seven innings with two walks and five strikeouts … with three of the five strikeouts coming in his last inning of work. Dempster threw 116 pitches, 76 for strikes, and took a no decision after the Cubs failed to score in the top of the eighth.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth … that did not last long.

Carlos Pena hit his first homer as a Cub in the top of the seventh that tied the game at one. Pena played a big part in Tuesday’s victory. Not only did his first dinger tie the game but he also scored a run in the ninth and made several solid plays in the field.

Geovany Soto has had a very good road trip (5-for-17 with four doubles, a home run and six RBI) and came through with two outs in the ninth Tuesday night.

After Jonathan Broxton issued back-to-back one out walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena, Don Mattingly went to his pen for Blake Hawksworth. Following a fly out to center by Alfonso Soriano, Soto doubled to right center with two outs and drove in the eventual winning runs. Soto then scored on a pinch-hit single by Blake DeWitt that gave Carlos Marmol plenty of breathing room in the bottom of the inning.

The Cubs out hit the Dodgers (7-6) with the first hits of the game with runners in scoring position coming in the ninth (2-for-8 with RISP, six left on base).

Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 29 games with a fourth inning single off Ryan Dempster.

With Tuesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 13-16 on the season and 3-3 on the seven-game road trip …

Ryan Dempster and Chad Billingsley locked in a pitcher’s duel Tuesday night … and it was not the first time the two pitchers have matched each other pitch for pitch in an eventual Cubs’ win. Dempster did an excellent job of putting his horrible month and bad start of the night behind him. Dempster needed Tuesday night’s performance … and so did the Cubs.

Ryan Dempster survived the poor start and did not allow his first hit until one out in the fourth inning. Dempster walked the first two batters he faced on eight pitches but induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Andre Ethier to get out of the early jam.

Dempster retired eight in a row at one point … but unfortunately for Dempster, Chad Billingsley was matching him pitch for pitch, and then some.

The Cubs looked like they might strike first Tuesday night. Aramis Ramirez ripped a one-out double off the wall in right center in the fourth. Ramirez thought he had hit the ball out of the park and did not hustle out of the box. Ramirez slid in safe but when he popped up third base umpire, Jerry Sands, ruled he took his foot off the bag. Replays showed it was a bad call but the bottom line was Ramirez did not run out of the box.

Q’s offense had another chance to score the game’s first run in the top of the sixth. Kosuke Fukudome worked a one-out walk and advanced to second on the Cubs’ third hit of the game, a single to right center by Darwin Barney … the first time the Cubs had two runners on base in the game.

Starlin Castro hit a chopper to short on a 1-0 pitch. Barney was forced at second but Castro reached. With runners on first and third with two down, Aramis Ramirez hit a weak grounder to short to end the inning.

The Dodgers broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Jamey Carroll singled to right on a 1-1 pitch. Jerry Sands dropped down a sac bunt. Carroll advanced to second and held when Andre Ethier grounded out to third.

Matt Kemp ripped a 0-1 pitch into center. Marlon Byrd charged and threw to the plate but Carroll slid in safe with the game’s first run. Kemp stole second with Uribe at the dish. Uribe ended up grounding out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs tied the game in the top of the seventh on Carlos Pena’s first home run of the season. Pena ripped Billingsley’s first pitch over the short-wall in right.

Quade left Dempster in to start the seventh. After six solid innings Dempster’s pitch count was at 91 but James Loney worked the count to 2-2 (behind 0-2 early) before blooping a single into left center. Dempster struck out Rod Barajas and Aaron Miles. Jay Gibbons was activated from the DL Tuesday and put together an excellent at bat. Dempster uncorked a wild pitch on his 115th offering of the game that allowed Loney to advance to second. Dempster then dropped in a great slider on the 10th pitch of the at bat that caught Gibbons looking to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster’s best outing of the season ended after seven complete innings … one run on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts on 116 pitches, 76 for strikes. Three of Dempster’s five strikeouts came in the seventh inning.

Kerry Wood retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the eighth on 10 pitches, seven for strikes … and gave the offense a chance in the top of the ninth.

Jonathan Broxton took the mound in the ninth and retired Aramis Ramirez to begin the inning … but issued back-to-back walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena on eight pitches. Don Mattingly decided he had seen enough and went to his pen for Blake Hawksworth.

With the game tied at one, Alfonso Soriano flied out to center for the second out of the inning.

Geovany Soto stepped in and fell behind 1-2. Soto then ripped Hawksworth’s next pitch into right center. The ball landed between Kemp and Ethier and rolled all the way to the wall. Byrd and Pena scored and gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

Blake DeWitt hit for Kerry Wood and singled to center. Soto rounded third and headed home as Kemp reached the ball. Kemp threw a perfect strike that for some reason Loney cut off. Soto scored the Cubs fourth run of the game. Fukudome lined out to a diving Matt Kemp in right center to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol retired the Dodgers in order in the ninth for his eighth save of the season.

Q’s squad put together a solid performance Tuesday night … it’s amazing what good starting pitching can do.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Carlos Zambrano will face Ted Lilly in the rubber game Wednesday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne
  • Tony

    Nice outing by Dempster. I watched the first inning live, last night, and couldn’t believe how he could walk the first 2 batters. Decided it wasn’t worth staying up to watch…but it was…

    Almost didn’t recognize Dempster, as well as he pitched. Let’s hope that puts him back on track. Billingsley is a very good pitcher, and he kept up with him.

    What has happened to Jonathan Broxton? This guy was the best closer a few years ago, now doesn’t even look like he wants to pitch. It just shows you how hard this game is to play, when you play against the best of the best.

  • Tony

    Welcome Carlos Pena! but C’Mon Man…May 3rd!

  • jw

    Important win for the team. 12-17 may have been a turning point down…to beat the Dodgers and Billingsly in LA and have your number 1 starter turn it around are encouraging. It is also encouraging that this team seems to pull together when things are appearring to get away from them and they won a game late. I think this will bode well for them in the next few series and they will continue to hang around .500. If Wells and Cashner can return healthy I think they will stay competitive and the season will continue through August for them..

    • Aaron

      I appreciate your optimism, and understand the importance of getting Dempster and Pena going, but c’mon…really?!? Turning point to hang around .500?

      The offense is dreadful, and nothing will change that. Fukudome already seems to be going into his typical slide, as he’s 2 for his last 21.

      Nearly everything has to go right just for the Cubs to reach .500 again, and EVERYTHING has to go right for them to make the playoffs.

      Even with his tremendous start last night, the starting staff is horrendous:
      Dempster-1-3, 8.05 ERA (that’s with last night’s start)
      Russell-0-4, 10.05 ERA
      Coleman-1-2, 7.36 ERA
      Zambrano-3-1, 4.91 ERA
      Garza-1-3, 3.96 ERA

      As for the bats…the ONLY Cub with more than 2 home runs (Colvin and Soto are the ONLY other Cubs with more than 1 freaking home run, sitting at 2….ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!) is Soriano with 11, and 7 of those bombs have been solo shots if memory serves me correctly.

      Soriano, with 21 RBI, happens to be only one of 2 Cubs with more than 12 RBI (Barney has 14 RBI). Castro has 12, ARAM has 11, and Soto has 10 with his 2 RBI last night.

      As for the rest of the lineup…
      Pena is batting .164/.295/.214, 1 hr, 7 RBI
      Byrd is batting .294/.317/.370, but with 0 hr, 5 RBI
      Fukudome is batting .358/.463/.388, but with 0 hr, and a paltry 2 RBI

      For a combined $30 million, you’d expect more production than 1 hr, 14 RBI, wouldn’t you?

      By comparison, the Cardinals have 5 guys with more than 12 RBI, including 2 guys with 20+RBI (Berkman nearly has 30, sitting at 27 RBI) They have 4 guys with more than 2 home runs.

      Milwaukee has 3 guys with more than 12 RBI, but two of them have 23+RBI. They also have 3 guys with more than 2 home runs.

      The Reds have 5 guys with more than 12 RBI. They also have 5 guys with more than 2 home runs, as well as 4 guys that are sitting at 2 home runs.

      Pittsburgh has 4 guys with more than 2 home runs, and 3 guys with 12+RBI.

      Houston has 3 and 3.

      In order for the Cubs to even reach .500, they need some major production out of their bats, otherwise they might do even worse than my prediction of 72-90 on the season.

      I don’t think anybody, including myself would’ve predicted this power outage the team is having. I never thought ARAM would have just 1 home run, and especially, just 11 RBI at this point, even with his poor average and OBP last year. I also never thought Pena would be THIS bad. I knew he would be worse than last year, given his consistent decline, but I never thought the power would completely leave him as it has.

      So, the question remains….if all things remain equal (ie.-the veterans not performing up to expectations)…..how long (if at all) will it be before the Ricketts order the dismantling of the team?

      Personally, I don’t think they have the balls to do anything. An ownership group that demanded excellence (as the Red Sox did) would’ve fired Piniella and Hendry immediately after taking over the team. Piniella wasn’t even interested in managing, and Hendry blew up the core of a nearly 100 win team, and suffered through a season in which he struck out on literally ALL of his moves. Even though they hadn’t taken over yet, even an outsider with half a brain could see what was going on, and he was simply too overmatched to be an effective GM. After his comments regarding stats after the Ricketts hired the statistician, they should’ve fired him immediately….but status quo remains, and thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Cubs will finish 5th or 6th in the division this year unless they have a major overhaul and bring up the young guys.

      • jw


        Thanks for the response. I always enjoy your perspective and posts and we are in agreement in many areas.

        To clarify, I agree with most of what you said and agree that the way this franchise has been run, including the lack of action by Ricketts is deplorable. My point of a “turn-around” was not so much they are are the road to a division title as much as I think the win last night bodes well for not having a first three-four months like last year. I think they are showing the capacity to rebound when needed and I think they will keep their heads above water for the first four months of the season. .500 for this club would be an accomplishment in my mind

        As far as starting from a clean slate or bringing up players…I don’t think it’s going to happen so I am limiting my comments to what I feel the current team is capable of.

  • studio179

    Dempster NEEDED that outing.

    Pena NEEDED that home run.

    The Cubs NEEDED that win.