On Friday afternoon, the Cubs welcomed the Boston Red Sox to Wrigley Field for the first time since 2005. The match up in here at home followed up last season’s trip to Fenway Park. The series also provided the reunion story line, with front office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer hosting their former team. Cubs fans were not given a chance for a reunion of their own, as Marlon Byrd was released despite being traded from the Cubs to Boston just a few weeks ago.
What Went Right: Despite word that there is preliminary trade interest in Ryan Dempster, the Cubs ace was able to extend his scoreless innings streak to 22 innings. The starting pitcher got off to a bit of a rocky start, having to get out of a bases loaded jam in the first, before setting down to tally another quality start. After being a victim of the infamous lack of run support, the Cubs offense continued the streak of getting their ace some runs to work with. The line up took a very patient approach at the plate, considering they were facing a rusty pitching coming off Tommy John surgey in Daisuke Matsuzaka. The offense cashed in on two walks in the first thanks to a bloop single by Steve Clevenger in the first. Dempster helped his own cause by legging out a triple in the bottom of the second, aided by Adrian Gonazlez misplaying the ball, but not touching it for an error to be charged. All three runs came off of two out hits, a bit of clutch hitting with runners in scoring pitching that has not been consistently seen on the North Side over the last couple of seasons.
What Went Wrong: Errors, which is another issue that has plagued the Cubs the last two years. On Friday the Cubs committed three errors, with a pair of them committed by the middle infield duo of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. Dempster was able to make sure neither of those came back to burn the team, but a third by new Cub Luis Valbuena at the hot corner added to the drama in the ninth inning for the struggling Carlos Marmol, before the wild closer was able to nail down his first save since the start of May.
What Was interesting: The Cubs-Tigers series prior to this weekend’s series with Boston was noted as the largest weekday series crowd at Wrigley. This was thanks in part to Detroit transplants now living in Chicago and Tiger fans making the reasonable drive down from Michigan. The solid attendance figures continued on Friday, with 40,073 taking in the day game. Despite the terrible record and lack of expectations, this week of sizeable crowds is good to see. Even comedian Conan O’Brien was seen taking in Friday’s game, with the late night host being in town for his show.