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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.