Game Seventy – Cubs 3 Yankees 4
WP – A.J. Burnett (7-5) LP – Ryan Dempster (5-6) Save – Mariano Rivera (17)
For the second time on the homestand the Cubs had a chance to win their third game in a row and for the second time they could not step up and get the job done. The Chicago Cubs remain the only team in baseball that has yet to win three games in a row this season.
The Cubs pitching staff was horrible on Saturday afternoon and to be quite frank they were lucky to lose the game by only one run. Cubs pitching, led by Ryan Dempster, walked 10 batters and gave up 11 hits … 22 total baserunners. While the Cubs offense managed only six hits, three walks, two runners reached on Yankee errors and Carlos Pena was hit by a pitch … 12 total baserunners.
Ryan Dempster lasted just 5 1/3 innings and threw a season-high 119 pitches, 72 for strikes. Dempster walked a season-high six batters and struck out six while allowing three runs on eight hits. Dempster labored through the first inning and did not allow any runs but continued to battle with control problems throughout the afternoon. Dempster had little to no command and was all over the place. Once again, Dempster seemed to disappear when his team needed him to step up and lead them to a victory.
James Russell allowed an inherited run to score but did not allow the Yankees to tack on in relief of Dempster. Chris Carpenter retired three of the four batters he faced and both Russell and Carpenter kept the game within reach.
Jeff Samardzija could not find the strike zone and walked three batters in his 1 1/3 inning of work. Samardzija somehow wiggled out of a jam in the eighth without allowing a run and was sent out to start the ninth. To Samardzija’s credit he struck out Alex Rodriguez to start the inning but gave up a double to Robinson Cano and walked Nick Swisher before Mike Quade decided he had seen enough.
John Grabow gave up a two-out double to Eduardo Nunez that plated Cano with the Yankees fourth run. Nick Swisher was cut down at the plate to end the inning. Again, Grabow could not throw strikes and fell behind both batters he faced 2-0.
The run Samardzija and Grabow allowed in the ninth ended up being the difference in the game.
Q’s pitching staff did not retire the Yankees in order once on Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs offense took a page out of the Yankees playbook … entering play Saturday 47% of the runs the Yankees had scored this season were via the longball. All three of the Cubs runs Saturday scored on two home runs … a two-run shot by Carlos Pena in the fourth and a solo homer by Reed Johnson in the ninth, the first home run allowed by Mariano Rivera this season.
Starlin Castro tallied two more hits (2-for-4) and Alfonso Soriano singled twice in four trips to the plate. One of Soriano’s singles came in the ninth against Rivera. Alfonso Soriano reached after Johnson’s solo shot cut the Yankees led to 4-3 but Geovany Soto hit into a 4-3 double play on Rivera’s first pitch to basically end the Cubs hopes at a comeback.
With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs slipped back to 12 games under .500 with a 29-41 record … Ryan Dempster struggled in the first inning again on Saturday. Dempster continues to make a habit of throwing a ton of pitches in the opening frame and in the long run it costs him and his team. Dempster entered Saturday with a 11.30 ERA in the first inning.
The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. Dempster walked Curtis Granderson, gave up a single to Mark Teixeira and walked Alex Rodriguez. Dempster struck out Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher swinging on two pitches in the dirt to end the inning. The hope was that Dempster would come back out in the second inning and throw strikes … but that would not be the case.
Dempster walked Russell Martin to start the second … and at that point it was obvious it was going to be a long day. Dempster did not allow a run in the second but after two he had thrown 44 pitches, 24 for strikes.
The Cubs did little of anything against A.J. Burnett in the first three innings … and managed only one hit, a single by Starlin Castro in the first.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the third. Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a single to right. Teixeira ripped a grounder to Carlos Pena that Pena made an excellent play on to get the out at first. Granderson advanced to second and held at third when Alex Rodriguez singled to left.
Robinson Cano ripped a 1-1 pitch down the right field line. Granderson scored but Rodriguez held at third with one out. Nick Swisher hit a sac fly into left center that allowed A-Rod to tag and score the Yankees second run of the game. With Cano at third, Dempster walked Russell Martin. On a 1-2 pitch to Nunez, Martin advanced to second on a delayed steal but was stranded when Dempster struck out Nunez to end the inning.
After the Cubs failed to take advantage of a leadoff walk by Geovany Soto in the third (Dempster could not get the bunt down, and Fukudome and Castro struck out to end the inning), the Cubs tied the game at two in the fourth.
Blake DeWitt walked to start the fourth. Ramirez struck out looking (Burnett’s sixth of the game at the time) but Carlos Pena hit a long fly to right. Pena’s 11th dinger of the season tied the game at two. Pena’s homer was the Cubs second hit of the game.
Dempster worked his way out of a big jam in the fifth. Alex Rodriguez helped when he tried to stretch a single into double. Soriano threw A-Rod out at second for the second out of the inning. Dempster then issued back-to-back walks to Cano and Swisher before retiring Martin on a groundout to short to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster’s day should have ended after the fifth with the game tied at two.
Eduardo Nunez led off the sixth with a single to center on a 0-2 pitch from Ryan Dempster. Burnett sacrificed him to second and Brett Gardner reached on an infield single. With runners on first and third with one out, Quade went to his pen for James Russell.
Curtis Granderson hit a 2-2 pitch into deep right. Nunez tagged and scored … 3-2 Yankees. Russell then caught Granderson breaking for second and he was eventually tagged out on another horrible rundown by the Chicago Cubs. The play was scored 1-3-4-3-4-2-6 … ridiculous.
The Cubs wasted a big opportunity in the bottom of the sixth. Burnett hit Carlos Pena with one out and Reed Johnson reached on an error by Nunez at short. Joe Girardi went to his pen and brought in Cory Wade to face Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano hit a smash to A-Rod and his throw to second was low and dropped by Cano.
With the Cubs down 3-2, one out and the bases loaded Geovany Soto stepped to the plate and worked the count to 3-2. Soto then hit a fly into left. Pena tagged and tried to score but was cut down on a perfect throw by Brett Gardner to end the inning. Pena collided with Martin but the Yankees’ catcher held on to end the inning.
The game remained 3-2 until the ninth.
Jeff Samardzija struck out A-Rod to start the ninth before giving up a double to Robinson Cano and walking Nick Swisher. Quade went to his pen and brought in John Grabow to face Russell Martin.
Martin popped out on a 2-0 pitch but Nunez ripped a double into center on a 2-0 pitch. Cano scored and Swisher tried but was cut down at the plate (Johnson to DeWitt to Soto) to end the inning.
Mariano Rivera took the hill in the ninth. Reed Johnson put together a good at bat that resulted in a solo homer to left … the first longball allowed by Rivera this season. With the Cubs down 4-3, Soriano followed Johnson’s home run with a single to center.
With the tying run on first, Geovany Soto swung at the first pitch and hit into a 4-3 double play. Jeff Baker struck out on three pitches to end the game.
Why wasn’t Soto bunting? If Soto cannot bunt, why wasn’t someone sent to the plate that could? D.J. LeMahieu? Koyie Hill? Why does Mike Quade have a habit of leaving pitchers in the game too long when it is very obvious they are done? Why is John Grabow still a Chicago Cub?
Four out of six on the homestand is still not bad … but it could have been better.
Randy Wells will face C.C. Sabathia in the finale Sunday night on ESPN.