The cloudy forecast was not the only gloomy news for Cubs fans today, as Jordan brought to us the bad news of both Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner hitting the Disabled List. Regardless, the Cubs had a game to play as they tried to sweep Arizona.
The insult to the previously mentioned rotation injuries is that Cubs ace Ryan Dempster has not been able to be the dominant starter he can be so far this regular season. Dempster avoided issuing walks today, but instead ended up giving up 10 hits. Mike Quade rode his ace through seven innings despite this, and for the second straight Dempster outing, the manager may be questioned for leaving the Cubs ace on the mound too long. After the injury shortened outing by Cashner yesterday, I can see the logic of trying to stretch Dempster in an attempt to save the bullpen some. To be fair, he did post scoreless 6th and 7th innings, and on top of that, his defense did not do him any favors. But more on that below.
Marcos Mateo was able to get out of a “runners on the corners” no out jam in the top of the 9th after failing to record an out in his brief outing yesterday, so it was good to see him bounce back right away.
Marlon Byrd made a valiant effort to make the catch on a ball hit by Chris Young in the top of the 3rd inning, but he missed it to allow Young to record a triple. Alfonso Soriano compounded the situation by struggling to pick up the ball cleanly, allowing Young to come all the way around to score on the play. His bad day in left field continued in the 5th inning when a fly ball into the corner glanced off his glove, but was officially scored as a double. The Cubs defense once again compounded the situation when the relay throw home was dropped by Geo Soto, allowing the Diamondback runner to advance to third. That runner would come in to score on the very next hit.Blake DeWitt committed the third and final Cubs error on the day that opened the door for the jam that Mateo was able to escape out of, keeping the Cubs in the game heading into the bottom of the 9th.OFFENSE Despite the big hit on Saturday to help the Cubs beat the Pirates, DeWitt reverted to his poor Spring form in his first start of the regular season, going 0 for 3 to add to his 9th inning error. Kosuke Fukudome would have been perfect at the plate had Chris Young not robbed him of an extra base hit in the first inning, but the Cubs right fielder did settle for a nice 2 for 3 day with a walk. Aramis Ramirez provided a big hit when his two run homer tied the game briefly in the 4th inning.Soriano hit his third solo home run of the season already in the 7th inning, but it was not enough to save him from the wrath of the Wrigley boo birds. His defensive inabilities have already been discussed, but he also struck out with the tying runners on second and third to end the 8th inning. He should be held accountable for his on field mistakes, but it was a bit harsh to single him out for the offensive woes. The Cubs have had their chances so far this season, including Tyler Colvin only being able to get a RBI ground out with the bases loaded just ahead of Soriano’s last at bat.The bottom line is the Cubs offense and pitching just could not overcome the bad defense. Errors were one of the big concerns in Spring Training, and today was evidence of why. The injury news and bad baseball was a tough way to end the opening week homestand, but hopefully the off day on Thursday will allow the players to regroup ahead of the early season battle with NL Central division contending Milwaukee Brewers starting Friday.