Dempster Keeps Rolling … Cubs Avoid Sweep – Cubs 8, Twins 2

Game Sixty – Cubs 8, Twins 2
WP – Ryan Dempster (2-3) LP – Francisco Liriano (1-7) Save – None

wflag.jpgThe Cubs ended the long 10-game road trip (2-8) on a positive note with their first victory in Minnesota since the 2000 season. The offense had a good day as Ryan Dempster rolled over the Twins for eight innings.

Sunday’s finale against the Twins was much closer than the final score indicates. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the sixth behind another outstanding effort by Ryan Dempster. The Cubs scored seven of their eight runs in their last three at bats.

Ryan Dempster tossed eight more shutout innings and has not allowed a run, earned or unearned, in his last two starts (15 innings). Dempster held basically the same lineup that totaled 32 hits in the first two games of the series to only four singles and kept the ball down for the majority of his outing. Dempster issued one free pass, hit a batter and struck out six (Joe Mauer three times) on 117 pitches, 80 for strikes. Dempster threw only 37 pitches out of the strike zone Sunday.

James Russell closed out the game and while his final line (two runs on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts) does not look good, the Twins squared up only two balls, and neither one went for a hit.

Five different Cubs (DeJesus, Soriano, Baker, Mather and Barney) drove in at least one run on Sunday. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double, a RBI, a run scored and a walk) doubled in Reed Johnson (2-for-3 with three runs scored and two walks) in the first inning and Dempster made the one run hold up until the sixth inning.

The Cubs scored three times in the sixth and knocked Francisco Liriano out of the game. The Cubs offense struggled early against another southpaw but ended up pulling away after they started being patient at the plate. Sunday marked the third win (3-13) in a game started by a left hander this season.

Starlin Castro (3-for-5 with a double, three runs scored and a stolen base) and David DeJesus (1-for-4 with three RBI) had multi-hit games. DeJesus drove in the Cubs’ second run with a groundout in the sixth then plated two more with a double in the eighth.

With Sunday’s victory (5-5 on Sundays in 2012), the Cubs improved to 20-40 on the season …

Reed Johnson led off the game with a bloop single to center (2-2 pitch). Starlin Castro was called out after he tried to check his swing on a 0-2 pitch from Francisco Liriano. David DeJesus struck out swinging for the second out. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and drove the first pitch he saw to left. Josh Willingham misplayed the ball, it hit off his glove and rolled to the wall. Johnson scored all the way from first on Soriano’s double. Jeff Baker hit a routine fly into right center to end the inning.

Denard Span grounded to second to start the first. Ryan Dempster appeared to catch Ben Revere looking on a 1-2 pitch but he did not get the call. Revere ripped the next pitch into left center for a single. Dempster collected himself and struck out Joe Mauer swinging. Dempster hit Josh Willingham on the first pitch but Justin Morneau hit a routine grounder to Castro in the shift. Castro fielded the ball and stepped on second to end the inning. Dempster threw 14 pitches in the first inning, 10 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the second … and Dempster set the Twins down in order in the second (26 pitches, 20 for strikes, after two for Dempster).

After Koyie Hill struck out swinging to start the third, Reed Johnson walked (just the second walk of the series for the Cubs). Starlin Castro crushed Liriano’s first pitch to deep center but Span tracked the ball down in the big outfield. Johnson advanced to second on a wild pitch with DeJesus at the plate. DeJesus ended up grounding out to first to end the inning.

Jamey Carroll led off the third with a smash down the right field line. The ball hit off the side wall which helped DeJesus hold Carroll to a single. Denard Span dropped down a bunt toward third. Stewart made a barehand pickup and his throw just beat Span to first. Revere grounded out to first; Carroll advanced to second but was stranded when Dempster caught Mauer looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning. Dempster threw 36 pitches, 28 for strikes, over the first three innings.

The Cubs led 1-0 after three.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth.

Ryan Dempster retired the Twins in order in the fourth … 50 pitches for Dempster after four, 39 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing for the second straight inning in the fifth.

Ryan Dempster labored through a long fifth. Dempster had kept everything down in the first four innings but started elevating in the fifth.

Brian Dozier popped out to second (3-2 pitch) to start the inning. Drew Butera singled to left (1-0 pitch), the Twins’ third hit of the game. Jamey Carroll put together a long at bat but flied out to left for the second out. Denard Span followed with a long at bat that ended with a free pass on the eighth pitch.

With runners on first and second, two down and the Cubs up by a run, Ben Revere hit a 2-1 pitch toward third. Ian Stewart fielded the ball, looked to second but Barney was not there (playing deep in the hole). Stewart threw across the diamond and just nailed Revere (half step) to end the inning.

After five, the Cubs led 1-0.

Reed Johnson led off the Cubs’ sixth with his second walk of the day. Starlin Castro was able to work the count to 3-2. Castro drove Liriano’s next pitch (up and out) into right. The ball rolled to the wall and Johnson held at third with no outs.

David DeJesus did his job and hit Liriano’s first pitch to second. Johnson scored and Castro advanced to third with one down. Liriano intentionally walked Soriano and put runners on first and third with one out. Jeff Baker struck out swinging …

A 1-1 pitch to Joe Mather got past Drew Butera, Castro scampered in from third with the Cubs’ third run. Soriano advanced to second on the wild pitch then hobbled home when Mather pulled Liriano’s 1-2 offering down the third base line. Ron Gardenhire went to his pen and brought in Brian Duensing to face Darwin Barney. Barney grounded out to second to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster set the Twins down in order in the sixth. Dempster threw 90 pitches, 63 for strikes, in six innings.

After six, the Cubs led 4-0.

The Cubs did nothing in the seventh against Brian Duensing.

Trevor Plouffe led off the seventh with a bunt single. Ian Stewart tried to barehand the ball but could not get a handle on it. Brian Dozier then tried to bunt for a hit. Stewart fielded the ball and threw to Baker covering first base for the first out. Plouffe advanced to second on what was not ruled a sac bunt. Drew Butera ripped a 1-2 pitch toward the hole at short. Castro stopped the ball but took his eye of it and dropped it. Plouffe rounded third and tried to score but Castro recovered from what was ruled an error and threw Plouffe out at the plate. Instead of runners on first and third with one out and trailing by four, the Twins had just a runner on second (Butera advanced to second on the play) and two outs. Jamey Carroll grounded out to third to end the inning … 101 pitches for Dempster after seven, 70 for strikes.

The Cubs were able to tack on against former Reds’ reliever, Jared Burton, in the eighth.

Starlin Castro blooped a single into center to start the eighth. Castro swiped second with DeJesus at the plate. Burton hit DeJesus with a 1-2 pitch and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs. Alfonso Soriano hit a tapper to the first base side of the mound. Burton fielded the ball and threw to second. Burton’s throw pulled Brian Dozier off the bag and the Twins’ first error of the afternoon loaded the bases with no outs.

Jeff Baker launched Burton’s first pitch into center. Span hauled it in and Castro tagged and scored from third … 5-0 Cubs. DeJesus advanced to third on the play. With runners on first and third with one out, Joe Mather could not check his swing on a 0-2 pitch. Darwin Barney ripped Burton’s first pitch into right center. DeJesus scored but Span threw out Soriano trying to advance to third to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster set down the Twins in order in the eighth.

Anthony Swarzak started the ninth and struck out both Ian Stewart and Koyie Hill swinging to begin the inning. Reed Johnson hit a 3-2 pitch to the hole at second. Jamey Carroll made a diving stop but could not throw out the hustling Johnson at first. Starlin Castro followed with his third hit of the game, an infield single to the hole at short.

With two on and two down, David DeJesus pulled a 2-1 pitch into right. Johnson and Castro scored on DeJesus’ double. Alfonso Soriano flied out to deep left center to end the inning.

The Cubs took an 8-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

James Russell replaced Ryan Dempster and while Russell’s line does not look good, the hardest hit ball was the one Ian Stewart misplayed into an error.

Josh Willingham smoked a 2-1 pitch toward third that ate up Ian Stewart. The Cubs’ second error of the game allowed Willingham to reach to start the inning. Justin Morneau reached on a swinging bunt up the first baseline. Trevor Plouffe then blooped a 1-2 pitch into left and loaded the bases with no outs.

Brian Dozier popped a 3-2 pitch into shallow left that Castro hauled in for the first out. Ryan Doumit lined Russell’s first pitch into left. Willingham tagged and scored … 8-1 Cubs. Jamey Carroll hit a 1-2 pitch off the end of the bat and into right field. The ball landed just fair, hit off the side wall and Carroll ended up at second with a double. Morneau scored on the play, 8-2 Cubs. Denard Span flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Both wins on the trip belonged to Ryan Dempster

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Monday is an off-day for the Cubs. Dale Sveum’s team opens a six-game homestand Tuesday with the first of three against the Detroit Tigers. Paul Maholm is scheduled to face Max Scherzer in game one.

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Quote of the Day

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