Happy Trails – Cubs 2 Padres 9

Game One Hundred Sixty-Two – Cubs 2 Padres 9
WP – Wade LeBlanc (5-6) LP – Ryan Dempster (10-14) Save – None

It’s all over … the Chicago Cubs lost to the San Diego Padres to close out the Twenty-Eleven season, the fifth season in a row the Cubs lost their final game.

The Cubs played a very sloppy game and in his quest for 200 innings, Ryan Dempster put together his worst start of the year. Ryan Dempster allowed a season-worst nine runs on eight hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Dempster threw 119 pitches, 74 for strikes.

Ryan Dempster served up two home runs that accounted for seven of the Padres runs and ended his season pretty close to the way it began. Dempster served up a grand slam to Neil Walker on Opening Day and Will Venable hit a slam on Wednesday night … on Dempster’s last pitch of the season.

Ryan Dempster was in cruise control through the first eight batters before losing his command. What plagued Dempster all season bit him hard in his final start … walks and home runs. Both of the Padres’ four-run innings started with two out and the bases empty … and were capped with home runs.

Ryan Dempster reached his goal of 200 innings (202 1/3 IP for the year) but for the fourth straight season since returning to the rotation he showed a steady decline. Dempster finished the season tied with Matt Garza for the most wins on the team (10).

The Cubs defense was charged with two more errors in game 162 and a misplayed ball by Aramis Ramirez led to the Padres’ first run of the game.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent in the final game of the season. Q’s offense managed only six hits with two walks and finished the night 1-for-7 with RISP and left five on base.

Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 1-for-3 night at the plate. Castro doubled in the eighth and drove in one of the Cubs’ two runs with a sac fly in the fifth. Castro reached base safely in the last 40 games of his first full season at the big league level.

Starlin Castro became the youngest player in the history of the game to lead the National League in hits. Castro collected 207 this year, good for tenth on the Cubs all-time list.

Steve Clevenger was 1-for-1 with a double, a run scored and was hit by a pitch on Wednesday night Clevenger doubled to start the fifth … his first big league hit.

Aramis Ramirez was 1-for-3 in what was likely his final game in a Cubs’ uniform. D.J. LeMahieu replaced Ramirez at third to start the bottom of the sixth. Ramirez finished the season with a .306 average and a .842 OPS with 26 home runs and 93 RBI.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs finished the Twenty-Eleven season with a 71-91 record, 20 games under .500 …

Starlin Castro led off the game by grounding out to first on a 3-2 pitch. Blake DeWitt singled to center and advanced to second on a single to left by Aramis Ramirez (0-1 pitch). With runners on first and second and one out, the Cubs offense did what they’ve done so many times this season …

Jeff Baker popped out to first (0-2 pitch) and Reed Johnson grounded out to short (1-0 pitch) to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster sat down the Padres in order on 13 pitches, eight for strikes, in the first.

The Cubs did nothing against Wade LeBlanc in the top of the second … and the Padres did nothing against Dempster in the bottom of the second.

After the Cubs went quickly in the top of the third, Ryan Dempster retired the first two batters he faced in the home half of the inning … then lost all command.

What has plagued Ryan Dempster all season bit him hard in his final start … walks and home runs.

The Padres first baserunner was the pitcher, Wade LeBlanc. Dempster walked LeBlanc on five pitches. Cameron Maybin followed with a grounder down the third baseline that Aramis Ramirez simply did not make a play on … and one a Major League third baseman should make.

Reed Johnson got to the ball in the corner and threw a one-hopper to Castro. Castro dropped the ball as LeBlanc rounded third and headed for home. If Castro would have fielded the ball cleanly and was able to make a throw to the plate, LeBlanc would have been out … he stumbled rounding the bag.

On a 2-1 pitch to Will Venable, Cameron Maybin stole third. Venable walked and both runners scored on a mammoth homer by Nick Hundley. Hundley crushed a 3-2 pitch into the second deck beyond the left field wall … and just like that it was 4-0 Padres. Dempster struck out Chase Headley swinging for the final out.

Ryan Dempster threw 30 pitches in the third, 14 for strikes.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the top of the fourth … but they ran themselves out of the inning.

Aramis Ramirez led off the fourth by grounding out to first. Jeff Baker walked ahead of Reed Johnson. Johnson ended up striking out but Luis Montanez walked to put two on with two down for Tony Campana.

Campana hit a 1-2 pitch up the first baseline. Anthony Rizzo stopped the ball but could not throw out Campana at first. Baker, who was running on the pitch, scored all the way from second … 4-1 Padres.

With runners on first and third with two down and Koyie Hill at the plate, LeBlanc caught Campana breaking for second. Campana was caught in a run down, Montanez saw it and tried to score from third. Andy Parrino threw home, Montanez was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out by LeBlanc … 1-3-6-2-5-3, inning over.

Ryan Dempster gave the run right back in the bottom of the fourth.

Orlando Hudson blooped a single into right to start the inning. Chris Denorfia followed with a single to left … Dempster then walked Anthony Rizzo to load the bases with no outs. Andy Parrino hit a tailor made double play ball to short. Castro booted the ball and Hudson scored easily from third … 5-1 Padres.

Ryan Dempster struck out LeBlanc swinging for the first out … and reached the all-important 200-inning mark. Cameron Maybin hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.

After four, the Padres led 5-1.

Steve Clevenger hit for Koyie Hill to start the fifth and notched the first hit of his big league career … a double to right center. Dempster bunted him to third and Castro hit a sac fly into right. Venable made a diving catch on the sinking liner and Clevenger scored the Cubs second run.

Blake DeWitt doubled but Aramis Ramirez lined out to left, in what was likely his final at bat as a Chicago Cub, to end the inning.

The Padres managed a two-out single by Chase Headley in the fifth but that was all. Dempster struck out Venable and Alberto Gonzalez in the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Wade LeBlanc in the sixth.

Mike Quade left Ryan Dempster in too long for likely the last time. Dempster threw 99 pitches in the first five innings and obviously did not have anything on Wednesday night … and Dempster turned a three run deficit into a seven run rout.

With D.J. LeMahieu taking over at third, Dempster struck out Denorfia and retired Rizzo on a flyout to center to start the bottom of the sixth … and lost his command again.

Andy Parrino reached on a single to right with two outs … and Wade LeBlanc singled to left center. Dempster walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases with two down.

Will Venable had hit seven homers prior to the series against the Cubs. Venable went deep on Monday night … and again on Wednesday. Venable launched a 1-1 pitch from Dempster over the wall in left center … 9-2 Padres. Venable’s slam ended Dempster’s night and season.

Ramon Ortiz made his final appearance as a Cub and gave up a double to Nick Hundley before retiring Chase Headley on a flyout to center to end the inning.

After the sixth, Andrew Cashner and Starlin Castro were the only two highlights in the final game of the season.

Andrew Cashner pitched a scoreless seventh and faced the minimum after walking the leadoff hitter. Cashner hit the mid to upper 90s with his fastball and threw 11 pitches in his inning of work, six for strikes.

Starlin Castro led off the eighth with a double to left … the 207th hit of the season for Castro. The Cubs 21-year old shortstop ran his hitting streak to 11 games and reached base safely in the last 40 games of the season.

The Cubs went down in order in the ninth to end the season.

On one of the best nights in the history of the game, the Cubs season ended quietly and the same way it began … cue Roy Rogers, or Van Halen.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs next game is April 4, 2012 against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field … Matt Garza against Stephen Strasburg on Opening Day?

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe