Tonight the Cubs played a rare solid all around game. The offense took the pressure off of starter Ryan Dempster right away in the first with a two run frame, highlighted by a RBI single by Marlon Byrd. Kosuke Fukudome had led the game off with a walk and it was good to see the Cubs cash it .
The Cubs went on to score single tallies in each of the next three innings to stake their ace to a 5-1 lead through the top of the fourth. The on going theme was RBI singles, as Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, and Starlin Castro followed Byrd’s lead.
In his return since missing a start due to stomach issues, Dempster ran into a little trouble in the bottom of the fourth and allowed two runs to make it a 5-3 ballgame. The Cubs ace was able to work around a lead off walk in the fifth to qualify for the win. He had only thrown 87 pitches through that point, but he was lifted for a pinch hitter the following half inning. Manager Mike Quade’s decision did not sit well with the competitive pitcher and Dempster was visibly upset before retreating into the clubhouse from the dugout.
This is not the first time Dempster has been upset with Quade, as a similar event occured near the end of the 2010 season. But Dempster’s anger should not be put in the same category as those seen out of Carlos Zambrano or Carlos Silva. This disagreement might be seen as added ammunition for anti Quade fans looking for more evidence to back the manager’s dismissal, but it should be noted that Dempster was one of the several players from the 2010 season ending squad that backed Quade’s push for the full time manager position.
Jeff Samardzija continued to display his season long progress with two scoreless frames, providing a perfect bridge to Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol to close out the game. Wood bounced back from his recent struggles in Washington with a perfect inning that included a strike out, and Marmol was able to put Friday night’s ugly blown save behind him by picking up a save tonight.
The Cubs offense pounded out 14 hits against the Pirates, including multi hit games by Fukudome, Castro, Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Soriano, and Darwin Barney. The power display in recent games by Ramirez and Pena have been a joy to watch, but it was also good to see that the Cubs could score runs with clutch hits tonight.