Cubs 8 @ Twins 2

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Ryan Dempster must wonder who is on his side when he looks up to see none other then Jeff Baker in the clean up spot  and Koyie Hill behind the plate.  Add to that no Bryan LaHair and a shutout looks like the only avenue for a win.  It looked as though that might be the case in today’s game until a Cubs sixth inning offensive barrage (it was three runs but we’re talking the 2012 Cubs here) lit up the scoreboard and gave Demp some cushion. The scoring didn’t stop there as the Cubs put up two more innings of crooked numbers to seal the deal.   The first five innings and the last four were at two opposite ends of the spectrum for this Cubs team.  Unfortunately we visit the latter end of that spectrum way too little.

The Good:

  • We could file the following in the “lucky” category instead, but I don’t have one for this recap so it counts as a positive either way.   Reed Johnson got aboard with a lead-off hit to start the game and then watched the next two hitters strike out on 6 pitches.  What started to look like usual Cub ineptitude at the plate took a turn for the positive when Alfonso Soriano lined a ball to deep left field.  It looked as though Josh Willingham could have caught the ball but decided to do his best Soriano impression and let the ball get over his head and bang off his glove.  It wasn’t a can of corn but it probably should have been caught.  Soriano got credit for a double and Johnson scored from first to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
  • In the fourth inning Len mentioned that Alfonso Soriano is on pace for possible triple digit’s in RBI’s this season.  I wonder if Len and Bob get a bonus from Theo every time they make note of a positive on the air regarding Soriano.  I assume anything to sell this guy to another team counts?
  • In the sixth inning David DeJesus and Starlin Castro atoned for their poor at bats in the first inning.   Reed Johnson got on base for the third straight time as the lead off hitter.  Starlin Castro worked deep into the count in the following at bat and then found a pitch out over the plate that he lined into the left field corner.  Reed Johnson was held up at third.  With runners on second and third David DeJesus bounced a ball to the right side of the diamond.  It wasn’t sexy but it was behind the runners and it scored Johnson from third and advanced Castro.  Sometimes even the simplest things can be quite productive.  Cubs were then up 2-0.
  • A wild pitch and a two out Joe Mather hit gained the Cubs two more runs in the sixth inning.  When it was all said and done the Cubs plated three runs in the inning, which is a crooked number, which is good.
  • I am putting this in the good column because the end result was good, but again, maybe we need a lucky column.  With one out in the bottom of the seventh and a runner on second the Twins Drew Butera hit what looked to be a routine bouncer to Starlin Castro.  In an effort to see if he had a play at third, Castro took his eye off the bouncing ball and it bounced off his glove into left field.  However, not letting the error get the best of him, Castro stayed with the play and chased down the ball.  He then made a perfect toss home to throw out the advancing runner.  Inside of one play we saw a recurring theme and possibly a new Starlin Castro rear his head.  I firmly believe, as ugly as the error was, that this was a step forward for Starlin.  Earlier in his career I think he quits on this ball and lets the error get the best of him.  Baby steps.
  • The flood gates seemed to open after the sixth inning as the Cubs plated two more runs in the eighth inning, and added another two in the ninth.
  • The one through seven hitters in the lineup were all productive to one extent or another.  If they weren’t getting on base and scoring runs, they were driving them in.
  • Ryan Dempster pitched eight shutout innings today.  If his pitch count wasn’t at 117 after the eighth I think we see him come back out for the ninth.  He gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, and 6 k’s.  Can somebody say trade value?

The Bad:

  • Reed Johnson started the game off in positive fashion with a single.  Why is this in the “bad” section? Because the next two hitters (Castro and DeJesus) saw a total of 6 pitches resulting in two strike outs, which is a prime example of the Cubs lack of patience at the plate.
  • In the third inning DeJesus had a 2-0 count with 2 outs and a man on second.  Instead of taking a few pitches and working that count he hacked at the next pitch, which was up and in and would have been ball three.  The key here is, instead of trying to work a walk and put 2 on with Soriano coming to the plate next, currently our most dangerous hitter, DeJesus is swinging away at pitches he can do nothing with.  Just another example in a long line of examples of our poor approach at the plate.
  • In the sixth, with Liriano reeling and runners on first and third with one out, Jeff Baker struck out on a ball that skipped off the dirt and almost hit one of his feet.  There’s nothing more reassuring then seeing Jeff Baker hitting in the clean up spot.
  • Ian Stewart and Koyie Hill each went 0-4 with two strikeouts.  Even when the rest of the team hits these two struggle.  Stewart has been better of late and Hill, well, he is Hill.
  • James Russell had a rough ninth inning which seemed to last an eternity.   He threw 35 pitches and gave up two runs on three hits.

Odds & Ends

  • There was a re-enactment of the Bartman incident around the eighth inning.  David DeJesus fouled a ball down the left field line which started creeping towards the seats.  It looked as though Willingham had a play on the ball but a fan sitting on the barrier made the grab above Willingham’s glove.  Len and Bob immediately started in on how closely it resembled the Bartman play and also how normal it is for a fan to commit that act.  Sure enough, the fan that caught the ball behaved rather sheepishly about the incident.
  • The Tigers come to town this week and I will be attending Thursdays game.  With the Tiger’s being my other favorite team it makes this series somewhat difficult to watch.  It’s like watching your wife and mother fight, or at least what I would imagine that to feel like.  I am not sure I would take anybody’s side if that ever happened.  On that note, with the Cubs being so far from good and the Tigers having something to play for (even though they have sucked lately) it might make the decision easier.
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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19