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.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.