Cintron Gets Nailed by Line Drive to Face
A day after he drove in the winning run with a PH single in the bottom of the 9th, Alex Cintron apparently escaped serious injury when he was struck in the face by a line-drive off the bat of Mark DeRosa while standing in the on deck circle in the bottom of the 6th inning of this afternoon's game between the Angels and the Cubs at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
Upon seeing what had happened, DeRosa jumped into the air and then went to his knees with his face buried briefly in his hands.
Cintron lay motionless on his stomach for a couple of minutes before finally rolling over and sitting up, and being helped to his feet by the Cubs training staff. He walked into the clubhouse under his own power, and DeRosa was able to resume his AB, relieved that his teammate was apparently not seriously injured.
I couldn't help but be reminded of the possible career-ending eye injury suffered by Cardinals outfielder Juan Encarnacion last year, an injury that occurred under almost identical circumstances (struck by line drive while standing in on-deck circle)..
As for the game, the Cubs scored three quick runs in the bottom of the 1st off Angels starter Ervin Santana to take a 3-0 lead.
Eric Patterson, who played the entire game in CF (one fly ball, one nice running catch), led off by working an eight-pitch walk. E-Pat then stole second, and came around to score on a double ripped into the LF corner by Alfonso Soriano.
Derrek Lee then lofted a high fly into right-center that resulted in a double, taking advantage of the wind taking the ball to the fence and the centerfielder failing to get a good read on the ball.
Because it looked like the ball would be caught,.Soriano tagged up at 2nd, and was only able to advance to 3rd.
Aramis Ramirez followed with a ground single between short and third into LF that scored Soriano and sent D-Lee to 3rd.
Kosuke Fukudome then hit what looked like a certain DP grounder, but he hustled to beat the throw to first and thus was able to net a FC RBI in the process.
With the Cubs up 3-0, starter Ryan Dempster took the hill in the top of the second, hoping to shut-down the Angels as he did in the top of the first, when he retired the Halos 1-2-3 on just six pitches (two grounders and a fly out). But it sure didn't work out that way.
Casey Kotchman led-off the 2nd with a weak dribbler down the 1st base line. Dempster sort of laziily loitered over to the ball, and then realizing "Oh, shit! I better hurry," he groped for the ball while off-balance, and then threw the ball not to Derrek Lee at 1st base, but rather like a drunken sailor to a surprised Mark DeRosa, who was located somewhere between 1st and 2nd. .
So with a runner at first thanks his own error and no outs, Dempster imploded, allowing six runs on five hits (two doubles, two triples, a home run).
Finally after he had thrown 40 pitches in the inning (that's right, 40 pitches in just 2/3 of an inning), and with Angels runners on 1st and 3rd, Manager Lou Piniella decided Demp had had probably enough work for the day--or at least for the inning, anyway--and replaced him with Michael Wuertz. And Wuertz did what Wuertz does best... stop the bleeding with a strikeout
And then Wuertz and every pitcher who followed pitched great.
Wuertz had four strikeouts in 1.1 IP. Kerry Wood had a 1-2-3 FIVE-pitch 4th inning (making me think Uncle Lou might want to try Woody's first "back-to-back" relief outing tomorrow), Jon Lieber threw four shutout innings (5th through the 8th - 58 pitches, 39 strikes, 6/3 GB/FB), allowing just two hits and a walk,with three K's, and Jose Ascanio worked a shutout 9th and looked OK.
The Cubs were able to score a couple of single runs to make the score closer, one in the 5th on a triple banged off the centerfield hitting background by Derrek Lee followed by a wild pitch, and another in the 6th on a HR over the LF fence by Henry Blanco
But they could get no further, and lost 6-5.
I think the big problem with Dempster as a starter will be pitch counts, not so much the game pitch count (although that, too), but he has already made three starts where he has thrown anywhere from 30-40 pitches in a single inning, and that just isn't going to cut it. And if I remember correctly, throwing too many pitches per inning is one of the main reasons the Cubs decided to move him from the starting rotation to the bullpen (and the closer spot) a month into the 2005 season, wasn't it?