Dingers is a wonderful word. It sounds like everything it’s not.
It sounds naughty; “An den she grabbed me dinger and gave it a tug.”
It sounds insulting; “He was such a dinger. He gave her a bouquet made of cockroaches.”
It sounds incredibly childish; “I’m a dinger, you’re a dinger wouldn’t you like to be a dinger too?”
It sounds confusing; “Dunn’s dinger doinked Don the Sox fan .....”
What it does not do is fit well in any sentence that ends with “Stretch! Yes! You can put it on the BOOOOOAAARD! Mercy!”
But yesterday was a day for dingers. In fact, thanks to the Cubs, yesterday will be forever remembered in history books as the first time a team hit one homer per inning for five innings off the same pitcher. Don’t get me wrong, other Cubs pitchers have given up 5 homers in a game. 2 in this inning, 3 in that. Warren Hacker, Ismael Valdez, Steve Stone and Carlos Zambrano have all done it. But one run per inning for five straight innings set a standard that I doubt will be met any time soon. Cash Kruth was at the game and has the whole story.
Travis Wood made the kind of history no one wants to Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs left-hander became the first starter in Major League Baseball history to surrender a home run in each of the first five innings, as the Cubs fell to the Cardinals, 9-6.
“I missed some pitches and they didn’t miss the pitches that I missed,” Wood said. “They ended up hitting them out of the park.”
According to Elias, it also was the first time the Cubs have allowed a home run in each of the first five innings in club history. It also was the first time a Major League team homered in the first five innings of a game since the Astros did so against Colorado on Oct. 2, 2004.
The five homers Wood gave up also put him in the company of five other Cubs for the most home runs surrendered in a single game in franchise history. Before Friday, the most recent occurrence was when Carlos Zambrano gave up five in his last start with the club on Aug. 12, 2011.
“They came in swinging. It’s a tough lineup to face,” catcher Geovany Soto said. “He was trying to keep the ball down, but it’s one of those days that they were slugging out there.”
Wood (4-6, 4.98 ERA) allowed a two-run homer to Yadier Molina in the second inning and solo shots to Matt Holliday (first inning), Lance Berkman (third), Matt Carpenter (fourth) and Allen Craig (fifth).
Daniel Descalso added a run-scoring triple in the fourth and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of St. Louis starter Lance Lynn.
“He pitched me tough. I think we just took advantage of some mistakes,” Craig said. “Pitchers are going to make mistakes, and when we’re swinging the bats good, we’re going to capitalize on those mistakes. I thought he had good stuff.”
Wood allowed eight runs on seven hits in five innings, marking the third consecutive outing in which he’s given up at least six earned runs. He is 0-3 with a 12.69 ERA in that span.
“I went on a roll and now I’m on the other side of it,” said Wood, who was 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his previous four starts. “The pitches are still there, the shapes are good. Just have to keep working.”
Despite Wood’s struggles, the Cubs’ offense responded quickly to Holliday’s first-inning homer, hitting for the cycle and scoring three runs off Lynn (13-4, 3.42 ERA) in the bottom half of the inning. David DeJesus hit a leadoff triple and scored on a single by Starlin Castro. Anthony Rizzo followed with his sixth homer of the year, a two-run shot, into the right-field bleachers.
Soto’s double completed the cycle, marking the first time the Cubs hit for a first-inning cycle since July 25, 2009.
Chicago scored three more runs in the third, beginning with another leadoff triple, this time by Castro. Rizzo drove in the shortstop before Alfonso Soriano followed with an RBI double and scored on a single by Soto.
Lynn allowed six runs in five innings, after holding the Cubs to two combined runs in his first two starts against them this season.
“It just seemed like they knew what I was trying to do,” Lynn said. “They weren’t going to get beat on that today. The time before, I was able to make pitches and get out of innings with runners on. Today, when they got the runner on, they scored.”
Lynn opened the fourth inning with a leadoff walk to Luis Valbuena, who was caught stealing, but the right-hander and five relievers combined to allow only three Cubs baserunners the rest of the way.
Castro went 3-for-4 to record his 88th multihit game since 2011, tied with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips for the most in that time. Rizzo went 2-for-4 and leads all National League rookies in batting average (.330), homers (six) and RBIs (15) since his June 26 debut.
“It’s a good feeling to be in that kind of mindset, have that feeling at the plate, and I just want to stick with where I’m at and keep going,” Rizzo said.
The loss, only the Cubs’ third in their last 13 home games, came in front of 40,778 on Ron Santo Day, which honored the late third baseman who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Also in honor of Santo’s number, both teams had 10 hits and the Cubs 1 error to the Cards 0 also rounded things out nicely.
Just FYI, for me to avoid having to pay for beer the Cubs need to go, at least, 47-17 the rest of the way. Something tells me that maybe, just maybe, I’m buying.
On the Southside Chris Sale took the mound to the delight of the many people who have penciled him in on their short list for a Cy Young Award. He went out and immediately hit the first batter he faced, gave up a three run homer the 5th one he faced and ended up giving up four runs in one inning. The Sox responded by giving him the lead back in the 4th and he took them into the 7th and accepted the victory graciously. Our homie, Scott Merkin, was at the game and gives us the 4-1-1.
Chris Sale admittedly didn’t have his best stuff during Friday’s 9-5 victory over the Rangers before 47,638 at the Ballpark in Arlington, as evidenced by his fastball topping out at 92 mph on just two occasions over 6 1/3 innings.
What the first-year starter had was enough smarts and pitching ability to lead the White Sox to their fourth straight win and to a 1 1/2-game lead in the American League Central over the Tigers, who lost, 8-3, to the Blue Jays in Toronto. That lead comes just five days after the Tigers swept the White Sox and took a 1 1/2-game lead of their own.
The southpaw improved to 12-3, despite allowing five runs on six hits. Four of those runs came in the first inning, culminated by Nelson Cruz’s 14th home run, a three-run shot to right-center. From the second to the sixth, Sale pitched scoreless baseball.
As for that velocity issue, Sale and the White Sox (54-45) responded with the same overall lack of worry as they did when questioned about the topic after the left-hander worked eight innings in a victory over the Royals on July 15.
“These guys can hit anything,” said Sale of the potent Rangers offense. “Like I said before, it’s not about how hard it’s coming in. It’s where it’s at. I don’t know how to answer that to be honest with you.”
“We talked about it a little bit but it’s him becoming more of a pitcher rather than just using velocity,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his ace left-hander, whose ERA stands at 2.61 after 18 starts and 19 games. “Every once in a while he can still do it. But I don’t think it’s anything arm related.”
That health diagnosis from Ventura was quickly supported by his 23-year-old starter.
“Everything is fine,” Sale said. “It’s getting late in the year and that might be a little bit of it. But that’s not something I’m paying attention to. I honestly couldn’t care less how hard I’m throwing.”
His ninth win in 10 decisions wasn’t without its challenges.
In the fifth, Sale hit Craig Gentry with a pitch and then walked Ian Kinsler. Elvis Andrus unsuccessfully tried to bunt twice, and then struck out when manager Ron Washington had Andrus bunt a third time. Josh Hamilton followed with a three-pitch strikeout, missing a Sale slider on 0-2 by quite a margin, and Adrian Beltre took a called third to end the frame.
Texas (58-40) scored once in the seventh without benefit of a hit, but it could have been much worse. Nate Jones replaced Sale with a runner on first and one out and promptly hit Kinsler and walked Andrus to load the bases. Matt Thornton was brought in to face Hamilton, and induced a fielder’s choice to first baseman Paul Konerko that scored a run. Thornton walked Beltre to re-load the bases, but Michael Young’s line out to Alex Rios in right ended the rally.
After six strikeouts, two walks and 109 pitches thrown, Sale had improved to 2-0 against the American League West leaders.
“He’s pretty good. He made some good pitches,” said Kinsler. “We had some good at-bats against him and some opportunity, but that’s what a good pitcher does. He makes pitches.”
“I feel like we let him get away, especially when we came back and scored four runs in the first inning,” Washington said. “I felt like we could make that stand.”
Yu Darvish (11-7) made his inaugural appearance against the White Sox, and Ventura’s crew didn’t have much trouble getting to the Rookie of the Year candidate. The White Sox scored one in the first on Rios’ sacrifice fly and two more in the second on Kevin Youkilis’ 425-foot home run on an 0-2 pitch to cut the lead to one. It was a sequence that disappointed the Texas right-hander.
“Very much so,” said Darvish of Youkilis’ blast to center. “Two outs, two strikes and giving up that home run. That’s something that was very unfortunate.”
Alejandro De Aza’s two-run single in the fourth gave the White Sox their first lead at 5-4. By the time Rios picked up his third RBI with a ninth-inning double off Alexi Ogando and Alexei Ramirez went deep, the White Sox were on their way to a fourth straight win against the two-time defending AL champs.
De Aza was not around at the end of the victory, after colliding with Ramirez on Gentry’s blooper to short left-center with one on and nobody out in the seventh. Left fielder Dayan Viciedo had the presence of mind to pick up the baseball and fire to Gordon Beckham to force Yorvit Torrealba at second, but De Aza was replaced by Jordan Danks after sustaining a sprained left wrist when Ramirez bent the wrist back on the collision.
“His body twisted my wrist,” De Aza said. “If I miss any time, maybe one day. But I don’t think this is bad.”
About the only loss for the White Sox on Friday was Zack Greinke being traded to the Angels for prospects. And that’s assuming the White Sox were serious players for Greinke.
When questioned by MLB.com about the Greinke pursuit and his current perusal of other impact hurlers, general manager Ken Williams went with a “no comment” response by e-mail. He probably had plenty of words of praise to share concerning his starting pitcher.
“Fortunately for us we swung the bats,” Sale said. “I was fortunate enough to hold them but [the offense] won the game for us tonight.”
Yeah, his velocity was down but his nastiness was way up. His curve left hitters looking like little kids playing against adults. His change left them looking at their shoes and his cutter had them scratching their heads. That slider that Hamilton missed, by about 6 feet, was a freaking Bugs Bunny pitch.
You don’t need to throw when you can pitch like that.
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