Pancho Dempster - Master of Camelback Ranch
Ryan Dempster threw five shutout innings and Carlos Pena drove-in two runs with a solo HR and a single, leading the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox in Cactus League action at Camelback Ranch this afternoon.
In Chicago "Crosstown Classic" means Northside (Cubs) versus Southside (Sox), but in the Cactus League the "Crosstown Classic" is Eastside (Cubs) versus Westside (Sox). And such it was today, as 11,599 fans crowded into the Stadium at Camelback Ranch to watch the Cubs battle the Sox.
Ryan Dempster was masterful, allowing two hits, a walk, a HBP, and a WP, while striking out six, in 5.0 IP (64 pitches - 38 strikes, 2/4 GO/FO). And one of the hits was a catchable fly ball that fell between Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd in left-centerfield.
Sean Marshall, Thomas Diamond, Scott Maine, and Jeff Samardzija followed Dempster to the hill, with each pitcher throwing one inning. Only Samardzija was ineffective, allowing three runs in the bottom of the 9th on an infield single (not very well played by Blake DeWitt), a ringing double, and a Lastings Milledge two-run HR.
The Cubs scored single runs in each of the first three innings off Sox starter Mark Buehrle.
Jeff Baker led-off the game with a line-drive double into the LF corner (Baker's first of two doubles today), and after Starlin Castro walked and Marlon Byrd was called out on strikes, Geovany Soto ripped a single up through the box to score Baker.
Carlos Pena cracked a solo HR (his first as a Cub) over the right-centerfield fence off Buehrle to lead off the top of the 2nd inning, and then the new Cub first-baseman also knocked-in the third Cub run in the top of the third on a line-drive single down the RF line (also off lefty Buehrle), scoring Geovany Soto from 2nd base. The RBI opportunity was available thanks to a fielding error by White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham on what probably should have been an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
The Cubs scored what proved to be a necessary insurance run in the top of the 9th, as Blake DeWitt and Brett Jackson smacked back-to-back two-out doubles, DeWitt's a ringer into the left-centerfield power alley, and Jackson's an opposite-field liner into the LF corner that was almost an exact duplicate of his walk-off game-winning hit yesterday at HoHoKam.
Although it did not appear to be a serious injury, Augie Ojeda left the game after being hit on the foot by a Jesse Crain pitch.
The Cubs made two roster moves today, optioning RHP Esmailin Caridad and LHP John Gaub to Iowa. (Minor League Spring Training games start next Thursday). Both pitchers struggled in recent Cactus League outings. Caridad missed most of last season with a sore right elbow and forearm, and Gaub battled control issues at Iowa before being sent to Fitch Park in June.