Filed: September 1st, 2008
Ah, there's where he got off to.
Ryan Dempster absolutely imploded Wednesday night, walking seven -- including the bases loaded in the 5th -- and serving up a grand glam to James Loney in that same inning. The result? Cubs lose 7-2, and face what now is a must-win tonight at Wrigley. Carlos Zambrano will start Thursday, facing Chad Billingsley for the Dodgers.
I appreciate that Ryan Dempster is a talented pitcher, who's been extraordinary this season. However, if you've read me for awhile, you know that I was especially unimpressed with Ryan at the beginning of the season. Great stuff, good presence on the mound, but ridiculous walk totals. Now, I'm not sure if it was the weather -- Kerry Wood seemed to suffer from similar problems until the temps started rising -- or approach, but as the season went on, it mostly went away. Mostly.
Last night though we were treated to the Ryan that I saw in April. Good stuff, but the approach just wasn't right. He was pretty much on the ropes from the onset, with baserunners in each inning of work, mostly via the walk. Someone is going to need to have an intervention, because you've got to believe if the Cubs are going to win this thing, they're going to have to do it with Dempster back at Wrigley for Game 5.
Shame too, as a Mark DeRosa home run in the second gave everyone reason for hope. It was Mark's first career postseason homer, and one of his two hits on the night.
Offensively though, that was about it. What did not help was the top of the lineup, where the 1-4 hitters collectively went 2-16. Alfonso Soriano was abused, as expected with any good sinkerball pitcher who can park his stuff lower and better than Soriano can hit those low balls. And while it was controversial to start Kosuke Fukudome in right, it was somewhat unfathomable to hit him second. Fundamentally, I understand the thinking, but in reality he is a hot mess, and Theriot's stroke and approach were much more conducive to hitting Dodgers starter Derek Lowe than Kosuke's. Fukudome goes 0-4 -- and looks bad doing it, while Theriot has a 2-4 night hitting eighth. Dumb.
You can pretty much guess the rest. Trailing in the middle innings, Lou Piniella had no choice but to go to the "B" team in the bullpen, and hope for the best. Didn't work. Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, and Jason Marquis were each tagged for runs in relief, including Marshall allowing the obligatory home run to Manny Ramirez in the seventh, that pretty much put the game away for good.
So, the Cubs go back to it tonight at 8:30 CT. Yes, 8:30. Call me crazy, but I'm just not worried about Zambrano. With plenty of time to rest and collect himself, I expect him to be quite effective, if not crisp. What I do hope to see as well though is:
1) A Mike Fontenot start
2) Ryan Theriot back in the 2 spot.
3) Piniella willing to stretch Carlos Marmol if needed, especially with a day off tomorrow.
4) And a little fortitude out of this team.
It's simple really. 100 years doesn't matter. The season doesn't matter. Hell, last night doesn't matter. All that does is winning Thursday night. Period.