Cubs start season on left foot

Ryan Dempster threw 7.2 impressive innings today as the Cubs beat the Cubs. I imagine the Cubs will be beating themselves a lot this season so they're just getting us used to it right away. Dempster allowed only 2 hits, but 1 of those was a ball that Jeff Baker didn't feel like bending over to field. Baker, playing because Bryan LaHair is injured, went to his right to field a ball and while he could have easily fielded it simply by bending over, he let it go thinking Darwin Barney's strong transformed arm would complete the play.

It was also that error hit that allowed the Nationals to tie the game at 1 in the top of the 8th inning. Had Baker don'e his job, Dempster gets through 8 innings having allowed only a hit and no runs. Instead, Dempster leaves after 7.2 innings. He'd reached 108 pitches. I was surprised to see him return for the 8th inning. He had thrown 92 pitches after 7 and I figured that's a pretty good total for a first start. Sveum (and I imagine many other managers too) disagreed and sent Dempster back out. I'm sure Dempster talked himself into staying in the game too.

He did his job in the 8th and should have completed the inning, but left with 2 outs and a runner at 1st base. Kerry Wood entered the game and gave the fans his best Carlos Marmol impersonation. Wood walked 3, including a walk that scored that tying run, before retiring the final out of the inning.

To give you an idea how useless ERA is, this is a great example. Wood walked 3 and recorded 1 out. Dempster was fantastic. He struggled a bit early, but settled down in the 3rd inning and just shut the Nationals down. Wood allowed 0 earned runs and thanks to his 3 walks Dempster allowed an earned run.

Marmol entered the game in the 9th with a tie game and he allowed a couple hits and a run. In the bottom of the 9th with 1 out Ian Stewart tripled to RF and then ran himself into an out at home plate (thanks to Joe Mather's appearance in the comments I remembered that it was he who was thrown out at home and not Stewart). There's not a lot you can do about it though. He was running on contact, which most managers would have done. Soriano also ran into an out at 3rd earlier in the game so the Cubs ran themselves into two more outs than you'd like.

Neither of those were particularly bad by themselves, but this is a bad baserunning team. They ran themselves into way too many outs in spring training as Sveum preached aggressiveness on the bases. I don't think anybody had high hopes for this team on the bases, but from what we've seen this spring and today it looks like they have a manager who will actually try to maximize their poor baserunning. You'd think he'd try to minimize it.

In honor of what will surely be an exciting season on the bases, we'd like to introduce you to do our TOOTBLAN counter.

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