Yesterday afternoon the Cubs faced their South Side neighbors. Both teams made headline grabbing moves this off season locally, if not so much nationally. It is only Spring Training, so this game does not factor into the silly competition for the BP Cup, but who got the early bragging rights for one day?
Veteran pitchers for both sides were matched up on Friday, Ryan Dempster and Mark Buehrle. Dempster continued his stellar Spring, only allowing two hits and one walk while striking out six. He showed great command of both sides of home plate for strikes and was stretched to a five inning appearance. Dempster could have easily gone out for another inning. His Spring ERA now stands at 1.50, and has backed up manager Mike Quade’s early decision to make Dempster the Opening Day starter.
Sean Marshall came in to pitch the 6th inning to register a hold and continue his excellent Spring as well. In fact all Cubs pitchers held their own against the Sox until Jeff Samardzija was lit up for three runs in the 9th inning and nearly blew the game for the Cubs. Samardzija has not looked good of late and his lack of success will put him in a tough spot for the coaching staff and front office, as he has no options left to be sent down to the minors without being exposed to waivers first.
The Cubs committed one error, but the defensively challenged Alfonso Soriano did not make a full effort on a fly ball that could have been caught on a dead run. Center fielder Marlon Byrd could only get to the ball on one hop, and as a result Dempster was tagged with another hit instead of a one hit outing. Soriano’s defense is what it is at this point in his career, and hopefully Mike Quade is not afraid like his predecessor to have Soriano replaced in the field late in games starting from Opening Day on.
The Cubs got to Mark Buehrle early and often, registering a run in each of the first three innings. Jeff Baker was the selection for lead off with the lefty on the mound, and he continued his history of killing left handed pitchers, going 2 for 3 on the day. Marlon Byrd was finally cooled off for once, going 0 for 3, and Soto went 2 for 3 with a RBI from the clean up spot. New Cub Carlos Pena, who has struggled this Spring, was bumped down to the 7th spot in the batting order, and promptly responded with a 2 for 3 day that included a solo home run of Buehrle and 2 RBIs. Meanwhile the big Sox signing, both literally and figuratively, named Adam Dunn went 0 for 2 with a walk against a pitching staff that he is very familiar with from his days in the NL Central and in the National League in general.