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.
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible