Every sports highlight show I’ve seen this morning is showing the Dwayne Wade block in last night’s game 5 against the Celtics. It is mentioned in passing that the Celtics won. That would be the same Celtics who are leading the series 3-2. The ones led by a guy with a ring, Mr. Garnett. You know, those rings they give champions? The kind that LeBron James has only see on e-Bay.
Okay, I’m done. As much as it pains me, GO BOSTON!
But the coverage of the Celtics / Heat series isn’t the only confusing thing. Yesterday Paul Konerko was scratched from the game so he could go to the hospital and “have this thing floating in his wrist removed.” Isn’t that called surgery? He went to have his wrist cut open and, according to the Sox, he’ll be available to play tomorrow.
Also confusing is how Alfonso Soriano is using his last few weeks as a Cub to show people the kind of player he can be, even given his physical limitations. Which would be exactly opposite the kind of player he’s been for the last four years or so. The Cubs should demand a refund.
Continuing with the theme of confusion, we head on up to the home of the Brew Crew where Ryan Dempster took one of the best ERA’s, and worst records, in the league to the mound. Carrie Muskat says a very confusing thing happened. The Cubs actually supported his outing by hitting the ball.
The last time Ryan Dempster won a game, Carlos Marmol was the closer, Kerry Wood was setting him up, Aramis Ramirez was batting third, followed by Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd, Theo Epstein was with the Red Sox, Jed Hoyer with the Padres, and Dale Sveum was the Brewers’ hitting coach.
A lot has changed since Aug. 11, 2011.
In Dempster’s last 18 starts since that date, the Cubs had averaged 2.37 runs of support. On Tuesday, he got more than that in the first inning.
Dempster and the Cubs could finally celebrate a “W” as Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer, Bryan LaHair added a solo shot and pinch-hitter Jeff Baker hit a two-run blast to help post a 10-0 victory over the Brewers, ending their road losing streak at 11 games.
“This was a big win for us—we needed that,” Dempster said.
A loss would have given the Cubs their longest road skid in franchise history at 12. Instead, the streak was snapped at 11 games, which matched the club’s all-time mark, set June 18-29, 1954.
“We have to be more consistent,” Soriano said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I hope from tonight’s game, we can get something going.”
It’s been even longer for Dempster (1-3). This was his first victory since last Aug. 11, a span of 18 winless starts in which he was 0-9. The right-hander faced the minimum through five, and Cody Ransom spoiled any thoughts of a perfect game with a leadoff single in the sixth.
“I was thinking about a perfect game, for sure,” Dempster said. “I’m not an idiot. I knew I didn’t have anybody on base. It’s the second best thing, a win. Five innings is five innings. You don’t get too worried about it.”
“It probably would’ve been a perfect game if [Paul] Maholm didn’t go put a jacket on,” said Sveum, the Cubs’ manager. “That changed the whole atmosphere in the dugout.”
And ballplayers say they’re not superstitious.
The Brewers totaled three hits over seven innings off Dempster, who was facing the right team to get off the schneid. He’s now 16-6 in his career against the Brewers.
“For some reason, Miller Park, against the Brewers, he does a heck of a job,” said Sveum, who saw a lot of those wins while in the Brewers’ dugout. “I had to witness a lot of it.”
“[Dempster’s] last couple of outings, we’ve done pretty good,” Milwaukee’s Corey Hart said, “but you know going in that if he’s on that day, he’s going to be pretty stingy with the hits. He’s like some of our guys, that if they get a big lead like that, they calm down and their stuff ends up working better.”
Soriano got things started in the first. With one out against Yovani Gallardo (4-5), Starlin Castro singled and David DeJesus walked to set up Soriano’s ninth home run, an opposite-field shot.
“I think if you look at his home runs through his career, there’s not very many that go in that spot,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “[Gallardo] threw him a lot of good curveballs and thought that [Soriano] would get off the fastball, and he didn’t.”
It marks the eighth straight series in which Soriano has homered, the longest stretch by a Cubs player since Derrek Lee and Corey Patterson both did so in 2004. Soriano also has nine home runs in his last 20 games, starting May 15, which is more than any other National League player.
LaHair made it 4-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his 11th of the season and first since May 15.
What’s been missing have been add-on runs, and the Cubs did just that in the fifth and scored three more in the eighth, including big RBI singles by Steve Clevenger and Darwin Barney.
Castro finished with three hits and was flawless in the field one day after a mental lapse cost the Cubs a run in San Francisco. Sveum and Castro met before the game.
“It helped me a lot because he talked to me,” Castro said of his conversation with the manager. “I listened to him. It’s my fault. He said, ‘It’s a new day, don’t think about it, don’t let it happen again.’”
Soriano also talked to Castro.
“Sometimes when you have confidence, you forget the part of the game that’s more important, the mental [part],” Soriano said. “He has the ability, the physical [part]. The most important thing is mental. ... I talked to him and said, ‘You have big talent, but you have to be strong mentally in game situations day by day. You’re here to play 162 games, and it’s one game at a time. You cannot make those mistakes.’”
The Cubs won despite striking out a season-high 14 times.
“I’ll take 14 strikeouts and score 10 runs, however it happens,” Sveum said. “Sometimes you just figure outs are outs, as long as you’re scoring. Obviously, you don’t want to strike out that many times, but when you’re scoring and getting big hits, that changes everything around.”
On June 18, 1954, Albert Patterson was assassinated after winning the election to Alabama’s first honest Attorney General. They don’t put up with that kind of stuff down there. When the skid ended on June 29, 1954, famous oceanographer Jon Bowermaster was born in Illinois, a state he would leave as quickly as possible.
I should also note that the Cubs have never won a World Series game at Wrigley, although three have been played there.
None of that has anything to do with anything so let’s move on.
Last night the Sox trotted out Philip Humber who seemed to be recovering from his perfect game only to watch him implode. Scott Merkin was there and says Humber got burned so bad there were scorch marks on the mound.
If Major League Baseball realignment ever placed Toronto in the American League Central via some strange geographic quirk, then the White Sox would find themselves in a great deal of trouble.
Playing the Blue Jays seven or eight times per year already is enough trouble for the South Siders, let alone tacking on another 10 or 11 games.
The Blue Jays’ 9-5 victory Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field marked the first 2012 contest between the two ballclubs. It also raised Toronto’s record to 27-11 against the White Sox (31-24) over the past six years.
Finding one or two reasons why the White Sox don’t match up with the Blue Jays (29-26) becomes too hard to analyze with the change in players from year to year. Corey Patterson had five hits in a game to beat the White Sox last year, including a walk-off homer in the 14th inning, and he’s long gone from Canada.
On Tuesday night, though, the reasons for the Blue Jays’ success were two-fold: starting pitcher Ricky Romero and the top of their order.
Romero (7-1) improved to 3-0 lifetime over four starts against the White Sox. He allowed three earned runs (five total) over seven innings, but at one point from the second through the sixth, he retired 15 of 16 White Sox hitters.
A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run homer in the seventh, giving him 10 for the year and a Major League-leading 37 RBIs among catchers, and Adam Dunn’s towering solo clout leading off the eighth were the only real blemishes against Romero.
“We don’t see him a lot, but he’s obviously one of the best lefties that I’ve faced in a long time. He shut us down pretty good,” said Dunn, who hit his fifth homer against a lefty this season. “We talked on the bench how he’s got three really good pitches. If he throws strikes like he did tonight, he’s pretty good.”
“Five runs is no indication of how he pitched,” said Blue Jays manager John Farrell of Romero. “He pitched with a lot of conviction. I thought he was outstanding.”
Those homers from Dunn and Pierzynski weren’t enough to offset a rough night from White Sox starter Philip Humber (2-3). Humber opened with a 37-pitch first inning, that albeit only resulted in one run, but by the time he departed after the fifth, Humber had allowed five runs on seven hits.
Four of those scored in the fifth when Colby Rasmus and David Cooper each knocked out two-run homers on 1-2 pitches. Rasmus also produced three singles and a double for the first five-hit game of his career and Toronto’s first five-hit game since Patterson.
Brett Lawrie and Rasmus combined for eight hits and seven runs scored as the top two hitters in the Blue Jays lineup. Humber had put together three quality starts in his last four trips to the mound, but he fell to 1-3 with a 7.38 ERA over eight starts since throwing a perfect game on April 21 at Seattle and is 0-6 with a 5.72 ERA over his last 13 starts at U.S. Cellular.
That overall inconsistency has become a bit maddening for the right-hander.
“I’d love to go out there and be good. I know I’m capable of it,” Humber said. “If you allow your struggles to make you stronger, they will. And I’m going to be really strong after all these struggles. I’ve just got to keep fighting because it’s a long season.
“Of course I want to be out there being consistent and helping the guys out. Right now, I’m not really pulling my share of the rope. Hopefully, here pretty soon I’m going to be right back where I need to be.”
Gavin Floyd seemingly has surpassed Humber’s struggles with a 1-2 record and an 11.90 ERA over his last three starts. But White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t plan to make any rotation changes with either hurler.
“They’re going to work through it,” Ventura said. “[Humber] just has to get better. He has to get better at jumping ahead and better control. When he’s got the count in his favor, just spot [the ball] better. They have the stuff. It’s just being able to get through it.”
“It’s just an inconsistent feel,” said Humber in describing his struggles. “I’ll have it one inning and then not have it. Or one game and then not the next game. I felt like I was close where I need to be tonight. You just got to keep fighting. It’ll come. Stay positive and keep working.”
Cleveland’s 4-2 victory in Detroit dropped the South Siders’ division lead to 1 1/2 games. This series-opening setback took place without captain and the Majors’ leading hitter Paul Konerko, who had a Tuesday procedure to flush a loose fragment in his left wrist to a less painful spot. It was the same sort of procedure he had at this time last year, causing him to miss two games.
Even great defensive plays from shortstop Alexei Ramirez, second baseman Gordon Beckham and first baseman Brent Lillibridge couldn’t rescue the White Sox. With Toronto in town for two more, it could get worse before it gets better.
Recent 10-1 and 14-2 runs of success for Ventura’s crew don’t seem to hold much water with the Blue Jays.
“To get on the right side of the scoreboard in our case early in the game and keep some of those guys in their ‘pen out of the game,” said Farrell of the White Sox, “that’s a big step for us to take an early lead and hold onto it.”
Oh, okay, they didn’t cut Paulie open, they just jabbed stuff into his wrist to move bones around. Gosh, that sounds like ever so much fun.
Okay, Humber, what do you do with him? You can’t bench him, the Sox aren’t that deep. You can’t trade him, not with him throwing batting practice every other game. You can’t kill him, that’s still against the law. So what do you do? I’ll look forward to your thoughts.
Also today, appropo of nothing, today is the anniversary of the first drive in. I don’t know about you but if it weren’t for drive ins I would never have gotten laid in high school.
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