The wind blowing out at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field typically leads to an offensive battle, and on Saturday the Dodgers and Cubs didn’t disappoint. Ted Lilly making his first start against his former team, since being traded to the Dodgers late last year, struggled by allowing 11 hits and a walk while only recording 13 outs. Ryan Dempster also struggled allowing 12 base runners and 7 earned runs retiring just 17 batters. The end result was a 10-8 victory for the Cubs.
The Cubs jumped all over their former teammate starting the game with 3 straight hits, and were it not for a great defensive play by Dodgers rookie outfielder Jerry Sands, throwing out Cubs rookie Starlin Castro at second base, the Cubs would have scored more than 1 first inning run.
The Dodgers tied the game in the 3rd inning on an RBI single by a red hot Matt Kemp. However the tie would be short-lived. Castro, who ended up with 4 hits on the day, fueled the Cubs offense by doubling and scoring in the 3rd inning then adding an RBI single in the 4th when the game took it’s first bizarre twist of the day.
Ted Lilly actually picked off 2 base runners in the inning without recording an out. Castro beat a throw to second base because Lilly was so slow to throw over to James Loney at first base. But it got even stranger when Lilly picked off Darwin Barney as Aaron Miles for some reason refused to throw the ball to James Loney in the ensuing run down until it was too late, and Loney was charged with interference, which sent Barney to second base. The 4th inning ended with the Cubs leading 5-1.
The Dodgers responded in the top of the 5th scoring runs on a two run homer by Casey Blake and a solo shot by Kemp one out later. The Cubs had a chance to add to their lead in the bottom of the 5th when Lilly gave up a lead-off single and was replaced by Mike MacDougal who promptly walked the bases loaded.
Cubs manager Mike Quade allowed Dempster to hit for himself with 2 outs, even though he had thrown 90 pitches, perhaps it was to try and save his bullpen that had thrown 6+ innings the previous day. MacDougal, notorious for his wildness, quickly fell behind two balls and no strikes then battled back to run the count full. Fortunately Dempster swung at what looked like ball 4 and the Dodgers escaped the jam.
Quade’s decision to leave Dempster in the game appeared to backfire even further in the top of the 6th when Rod Barajas led off the inning with a classic wind aided Wrigley Field homer to tie the game. After retiring Jamey Carroll, Alfonso Soriano mis-played a Tony Gwynn single into a triple and Dempster’s day would be done after he walked Casey Blake with 2 outs.
Quade brought in lefty Sean Marshall to face Andre Ethier who has only managed 5 hits in 23 at bats against left handed pitchers this season. With his 19 game hitting streak on the line and down 1 ball and 2 strikes in the count, Ethier ripped a double down the right field line to give the Dodgers a 7-5 lead.
Vicente Padilla, making his season debut pitched a dominant bottom of the 6th, a welcome sight for a Dodger bullpen that has struggled for the most part. Jerry Sands manufactured a run by leading off the 7th inning with a single, and after a James Loney fly out, Sands stole second and advanced to 3rd when the throw went into center field. The Cubs brought the infield in and Rod Barajas hit a sharp grounder to Castro, however Sands beat the throw to the plate and knocked the ball loose by sliding into home plate feet first. 8-5 Dodgers.
Matt Guerrier needed just 7 pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the 7th, and Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija was equally impressive striking out the side in the top of the 8th. Guerrier came back out to pitch the bottom of the 8th and all hell broke loose. Soriano and Reed Johnson hit back to back singles to start the inning followed by a Kosuke Fukudome walk.
Up came the red hot Castro who singled in 2 runs to cut the dodgers lead to 8-7. The Dodgers played the infield back in hopes of a double play and Jamey Carroll made a great play on a hard hit ball by Barney, but Aaron Miles couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and the tying run scored with the Dodgers unable to turn the double play.
After a Marlon Byrd strike out, Aramis Ramirez hit a short fly ball to left that Sands mis-judged, he initially started back then he raced in but couldn’t get to the ball before it dropped. It was Sands second misplay of the day as he earlier lost a ball in the sun that was ruled a double by Castro. All in all Guerrier was charged with 5 runs, his first allowed this season.
Mattingly brought in Blake Hawksworth to try and keep the game tied but Jeff Baker drilled his first pitch into the right center field gap to score 2 runs, both runs charged to Guerrier, and the Cubs led 10-8. The Dodgers only got out of the inning because Geovany Soto nailed a line drive right at Casey Blake.
Jerry Sands walked with 1 out in the 9th off of Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, and James Loney got a first pitch fastball right down the middle of the plate, he seemed to hit it harder than any ball he’s hit in a while, but just like the rest of his season it simply turned out to be a routine fly ball that didn’t even reach the warning track. Rod Barajas then struck out and the Cubs pulled out a wild back and forth victory 10 to 8.
- After going 0-5 today Loney is now hitting .165, with a paltry .191 on-base percentage and a measly .212 slugging percentage. Loney clearly has some serious issues with his swing and seems to lack any emotion on the field, even though he surely has to be frustrated. If he does not turn it around the end of his tenure with the Dodgers may be sooner than expected as he clearly looks like a player who needs a change of scenery and frankly the Dodgers simply cannot contend getting this type of production from an important offensive position.
- Aaron Miles led off today with Jamey Carroll hitting 8th. Yesterday Carroll and Blake got on base 6 times as the top 2 hitters in the lineup, a huge benefit to have runners on base with the Dodgers top two hitters Ethier and Kemp at the plate. Again today Carroll and Blake reached base 5 straight times to begin the game , unfortunately Carroll was in the 8 spot and the pitcher came to bat with him on base rather than Ethier or Kemp. Miles is batting .214 and has an on base percentage of .238 there is no reason he should be leading off instead of Carroll, and the argument can be made that prospect Ivan De Jesus should be playing instead of Miles who not only isn’t hitting but had a couple of defensive lapses today as well.
- Ted Lilly now has an ERA of 5.13 and has only been effective in 1 of his 4 starts, and right now the prospect of Lilly making $13.5 million dollars at 37 years old in 2013 does not seem like a solid investment.
- Jerry Sands snapped an 0-14 slump with a single, and also walked, stole a base and scored. He also misplayed 2 balls in left field. He will certainly have his ups and downs, but unlike other Dodger fans who were posting on message boards during the game today that Sands needs to be sent back to AAA after just over 20 at bats, I disagree. He will be fine, Dodger fans just need to be patient.
- Vicente Padilla was very impressive in his 1 inning of work and should be a welcome addition to the much maligned Dodgers bullpen.
- Casey Blake had two more hits and two walks today, his fourth straight game with at least two hits. Blake has nine hits in 18 at-bats with two home runs and three walks in his last 4 games.
- Hong-Chih Kuo will begin a rehab assignment at Ranch Cucamonga on Monday according to Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles. Kuo can be activated from the DL as early as Friday.
The Dodgers have a chance to take the series tomorrow as Hiroki Kuroda faces off against Carlos Zambrano at 11:20 AM PT. Lasorda’s Lair will recap what has been a bizarre week on and off the field for the Dodgers by examining what the various media outlets are saying about Bud Selig and Major league Baseball vs. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. Be sure to stop by as you will be astonished by some of the information Major League Baseball has uncovered.
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Topics: Aaron Miles, Andre Ethier, Blake Hawksworth, Casey Blake, Don Mattingly, Hiroki Kuroda, Hong-Chih Kuo, James Loney, Jamey Carroll, Jerry Sands, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Guerrier, Matt Kemp, Mike MacDougal, Rod Barajas, Ted Lilly, Vicente Padilla