The playoffs officially kicked off today in the American League, but the Cubs season ended on Wednesday. The disappointing season fittingly ended with a loss that gave the series win the San Diego Padres. It was an ugly end to the season for Ryan Dempster as well, as he allowed nine runs in just 5 2/3 innings of work. He did strike out seven but the eight hits and four walks made life harder on himself.
The scare highlights on offense included Starlin Castro collecting one last hit on a solid season to give him 207 for the year. He became the youngest player in National League history to lead the senior circuit in hits. Love him or hate him, Wednesday also marked the very real possibility that we saw Aramis Ramirez play his last game as a Cub. He finished with a 1 for 3 night and ended the season with a .306 average. Combined with his solid home run and RBI stats, he will be looking to cash in as much as he can one last time as starts the journey towards the end of his career.
The Cubs did manage a win on Tuesday thanks to Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. The potential future Cubs ace Garza ended the season with another solid start. He had eight strike outs over seven innings while only allowing two runs.
However, his efforts were looking to be lost as the Cubs offense could only muster one run through seven innings. That lone run was thanks to Ramirez’s solo shot in the fourth inning, his 26th and final home run of the season. But Soriano came to the rescue with a clutch three run bomb in the top of the eighth to vault the Cubs into the lead late. That also marked his 26th of the season to match buddy Ramirez.
The Cubs offense tacked on two more runs for good measure in the ninth. Darwin Barney led off with a walk and was followed by a Tony Campana bunt single. Blake DeWitt later drove both in with a single, and that was plenty of cushion for the Cubs pen to hold off the Padres and help Garza even up his season record at 10-10.
The series recap will end with the series opener because there is not much to talk about for the Cubs. The offense was held to two hits total and they wasted a decent outing from Casey Coleman, who only allowed two runs while striking out seven.
One item of note was Campana getting a shot to show what he can do out of the lead off spot. Unfortunately he went 0 for 4 with two strike outs. It will be a true uphill battle for Campana to force his way as a lead off option for the Cubs, but at this point he does not look to hit for enough average to take on the role in 2012.
That move bumped Castro to the three spot. He did collect a hit, but the Cubs really need to keep the sophomore short stop either at the top of the order or in the two spot. The kid has proven in back to back years now that he can hit for average and swipe a few bags. Why force him into a power hitting, RBI role that he is not ready for? The old saying is power development will come for kids like Castro that did not get drafted as a true power bat. The third spot in the line up may be his home as he becomes a veteran, but the Cubs should not be messing with what has proven to work for Castro over the course of 162 game season.
Steve Clevenger was given his Major League debut with a start behind the plate. He seemed to call a decent game behind the plate as witnessed by Coleman’s stats, but at the dish he started 0 for 3 as a Major Leaguer.
The rest of the youth movement candidates also struggled to tally a hit. Tyler Colvin was hitless in his start in right field and was mirrored by Bryan LaHair in left. DJ LeMahieu has shown a good glove at the hot corner, but he has not hit enough in his limited at bats to give Cubs fans confidence that an in house replacement for Ramirez exists.
With the off season official for the Cubs, their fans will be hoping for enough news about their favorite team to keep them occupied for the coming Chicago winter.