The Cubs bats greeted Dusty Baker and his slumping Reds by breaking out their whooping sticks. Even before the first pitch, Cubs fans were nervous. Aaron Harang, who always pitches well against the Cubs, was on the mound and we had our number 3 starter, Ryan Dempster going. Then, in the first inning, Alfonso Soriano does his little hop to catch a fly ball and injures his calf. He had to have Ryan Theriot on the field. Soriano never gets injured his whole career, then he comes to the Cubs and has three leg injuries in less than a year and a half. 136 million dollars down the toilet. Mike Fontenot came in to lead off the game and Mark DeRosa moved from second to left.
Things got worst in the top of the second when Dempster walked the first two guys he
faced. With no outs and runners at first and second, Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball to left to drive in Brandon Phillips. With runners still at first and second, Dempster got Joy Votto to strike out, Paul Bako to fly out, and Harang to ground out. The Cubs were able to strike back in the bottom of the second when Fukudome led off the inning with a single. Mark DeRosa, who always kills the Reds, crushed a home run to left center to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. The good times didn’t last though, as Jeff Keppinger singled and Ken Griffey Jr hit his 595th home run, putting the Reds back ahead 4-3. Luckily, Dempster was able to stay out of trouble for a while.
In the bottom of the fifth, Dempster hit a fly ball to center for the first out. Mike Fontenot then hit a double and his canjun twin, Ryan Theriot, walked. Wow, how nice is it to have table setters. Ask Derek Lee, as he crushed a hanging slider to give the Cubs a 6-4 lead. After the home run, Theriot and Fontenot, all 5’10 of them, waited for Derek Lee at home plate. Lee looked like Willy Wonka and Theriot and Fontenot looked like oompa loompas. The great thing is that this is Lee’s fifth home run. Lee didn’t have five home runs until June 1st last year. He already has that in two weeks. The combination of Lee, Theriot and Fontenot also was key in the top of the seventh, this time for their defense.
In the top of the seventh, Dempster was starting to run out of gas. Bako started out the inning with a single, then pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg drew a walk, putting runners at first and second with no outs. That was all for Dempster, who managed to scatter five hits and walked five over six-plus innings, striking out three. Out of the bullpen came Carlos Marmol to
face former Cub Corey Patterson. With runners at first and second, Pattesron bunted hard back to Marmol, who made an ill advised throw to second. Everyone was safe and the base were loaded with nobody out, going into the heart of the Reds order. The next batter, Jeff Keppinger, hit a ball that should have gone to centerfield to tie the game, but Mighty Mike Fontenot made an amazing diving stab, and flipped the ball from his glove to Theriot. They only got one out, and the Reds scored on the fielder’s choice to make it 5-4, but that play changed the momentum of the inning. Marmol got the next batter, Griffey Jr, to ground into a 3-6-3 double play, Lee to Theriot, back to Lee. It was amazing and the crowd went nuts. The Cubs never looked back, with Ramirez, DeRosa, and Theriot all driving in runs. Theriot hit a two run homer. Michael Wuertz struggled again out of the pen, but Wood closed it out for a 9-5 win.
Look, I’m not stupid. Even though Soriano is struggling, the Cubs are still a better team when he’s healthy, but his injury may show the importance of DeRosa and the need to upgrade at second base. DeRosa filled in nicely for Soriano, and played left field well. He is perfect to have when someone gets injured or needs a day off. With Fontenot at second, the Cubs were a much better defensive team. If DeRosa was at second in the top of the seventh, he doesn’t come close to that ball Keppinger hits, two runs score, and there would still be no outs. You need to be tight defensively up the middle, and that’s what Fontenot brings. He also has a great swing and would be a nice number two hitter. Now Fontenot started out hot when Aramis went down last season and DeRosa moved to thrid. He then cooled off. No one know how long Soriano is out, but it will be interesting to see if Fontenot can cut it offensively in the big leagues. He is also another left handed bat.
Tonight also proves why Marmol should not be the closer. Lou loves to use Marmol when the game is on the line. He was the best when it came to stranding inherited runners last season, and he is keeping runners from scoing this season. Without Marmol, it doesn’t matter who your closer is because you won’t have the lead in many games. Marmol puts out a lot of fires for Lou and there is no one else who could fill that role.
Beside Wuertz’s poor outing, the other negative of this game was Felix Pie. He was bad. Read bad. Not even close. On a day when every single batter got a hit, including pinch hitter Reed Johnson and Ryan Dempster, Pie was 0-4. Not only that, it was an ugly 0-4, with three strike outs and four men left on base. I wonder if Corey Patterson looked into the hometeam dugout and saw himself when he was a young ballplayer. I hope they can fix Felix’ swing, or Pie may end up like Patterson, a journeyman centerfielder.
Hopefully the Cubs can take the second game of the series. On paper, it looks like we have the advantage,with Zambrano going against Josh Fogg. Fogg has never impressed me, so let’s see how the Cubs’ lineup looks tomorrow. Let’s hope the bats keep cooking and the Cubs keep winning.