Well, that was quick. After two losses, the first rather exciting as losses go, the second rather putrid, manager Lou Piniella has shuffled the lineup.
He used 125 of them last season and now has two in three games. Alfonso Soriano is back in the leadoff spot, after starting the season hitless in the second spot. He swaps places with Ryan Theriot.
(Somewhere message-board Moneyball Martin is preparing a 20-slide power-point presentation on why Soriano is even worse than Theriot in this spot. Not that anyone would disagree.)
There are numerous theories and/or explanations here. One, that Soriano was put in the second spot in anticipation of the long-rumored-but-never-happened Brian Roberts deal. Two, Piniella put Soriano back in the leadoff spot because the $136-million dollar baby is incapable of and/or unwilling to hit anywhere else, like, say, fifth. Three, that Ryan Theriot and his propensity to not reach base is not the answer in that spot, even though, have you, he had two hits yesterday after taking an 0-for-5 in the opener. And finally and least plausible without getting into a theological discussion despite the century's worth of circumstantial evidence, the Cubs could bat anyone anywhere and it won't make a lick of difference because God hates the Cubs.
Remain calm. All is well. Reclamation project Ryan Dempster takes the mound today. Dave Bush throws for the Brewers. Here's today's lineups. OMG, Ned Yost has used two lineups in three games, too!
Dempster starts Rickie Weeks off with a strike. Comes right back with a ball to even things out. Monday it was cloudy yet a little warm for the season. Yesterday it was sunny yet cold. Today's it's a little of both, cold and cloudy: mid-40s with a slight wind. Full count and Dempster just misses off the outside corner. Tony Gwynn dumps a double the other way down the left-field line and Prince Fielder comes up with two on and no outs. Fielder is still wearing those baggy pants but has the high socks going today and looks like the late Payne Stewart. Fielder hits a flyball to right. Kosuke Fukudome's throw is on target but late and takes a high hop off the grass. Weeks runs over Geovany Soto and takes him out and both runs score. The ball got away from Soto when Weeks ran him over. Ryan Braun grounds out to short. Hall strikes out swinging but the Brewers score two runs in the first.
Brewers 2, Cubs 0
Tremendous start for the Cubs. Soriano fouls off a few pitches from Bush to even the count at 2-2. Sorriano waves at ball in the dirt for strike three. Don't question Lou Piniella. Here's "the versatile Ryan Theriot," as Len calls him, which means he can fly out from either the leadoff or No. 2 spot, which he does -- to right. I'll try to get the updates as fast as they come. You know, wouldn't want to upset some donkey named Bill on the message board. Derrek Lee grounds out to short and the Cubs go down 1-2-3. in the first.
Brewers 2, Cubs 0
Corey Hart bounces out to third on the first pitch. J.J. Hardy flies out to right. The pitcher Bush lines out to Lee and Dempster has a much easier time with the bottom of the Brewers' order.
Aramis Ramirez takes a couple of balls to start the Cubs' half of the second. Ball four high and Ramirez takes a walk. Fukudome digs in and a bunch of shirtless kids in the bleachers have his name spelled out on their chests. Gotta support the team, I guess. Fukudome pokes one the other way. Braun starts in, retreats and the ball goes over his head. Ramirez takes third on the gift double. DeRosa bounces one towards third that eats up Bill Hall, allowing Ramirez to score. Runners on first and third. That ball took a big hop off the dirt and bounced over Hall's glove. Credit Roger Bossard. Soto knocks in Fukudome with a long flyball to center. DeRosa did not advance from first on the play. Pie singles up the middle past a diving Hardy. Yes, you read that right. Ryan Dempster with a bat in his hand with runners on first and second and one out. Dempster bunts the first pitch foul. And the second one. He takes two balls. He bunts foul what would've been ball three for the second out. Soriano grounds to short and they force Pie at second. But we're all tied up.
Cubs 2, Brewers 2
Jason Kendall grounds out to short to start the third. Weeks beats out a slow roller to short. Theriot made a nice play on it but the throw was just late. Gwynn takes a called third strike on a tailing fastball over the inside corner. Dempster throws one up and in on Fielder. Weeks steals second on the next pitch. Fielder grounds out to short right with the shift on.
Theriot breaks his bat grounding out to third. Lee grounds out to third on the first pitch. Ramirez sends one deep to center but not deep enought. Gwynn gloves it at the edge of the track.
Cubs 2, Brewers 2
Braun bounces one back through the box that Dempster bare-hands. He throws to first for a quick first out. Hall strikes out on a pitch in the dirt and Dempster is rolling right along here. Dempster nibbles away on the outside corner but Hart lays off and draws a two-out walk. The count goes full to Hardy, too, and Dempster has settled down a bit but thrown a lot of pitches -- 59, I believe. Hardy flies out to Fukudome in right to end the top half of the fourth.
Fukudome draws a lead-off walk. Dave Bush and that glacial windup makes Steve Trachsel look like Mark Buehrle. Fukudome swipes second and that gets Len and Bob all worked up. Bush drills DeRosa on the shoulder. That's six
beanings plunkings in this series, two each for DeRosa, Weeks and Fielder. How about a fight already. Soto takes two straight balls and that bring's pitching coach Mike Maddux and his moustache out of the Brewers' dugout. "You see this 'stache? It's mesmerizing, isn't it?" He heads back and Bush promptly walks Soto to load the bases with no outs. Pie quickly falls behind 0-2. Pie swings at a pitch near the pressbox for strike three and heads back to the dugout. Solid at-bat there when you need some contact. Dempster bats, the Brewers bring in the corners and I can't imagine this ending good. He's down 0-2, squares for the first time in the at-bat and misses for strike three. The upside: He didn't hit into a double play. The downside: It's the second out and the Cubs have failed to put the ball in play with the bases loaded. Now 3-0 to Soriano. Soriano takes ball four and Fukudome scores on the bases-loaded walk. I didn't think he would take that pitch. Theriot grounds out to third and the Cubs manage one run out of a bases-loaded-and-no-outs situation.
Cubs 3, Brewers 2
Bush bounces back to Dempster for the first out. Kendall singles back up the middle. Weeks pops out to Theriot on the outfield grass. Gwynn grounds out to Lee and we move on.
Lee grounds out to Hall. Ramirez golfs one into the left-field bleachers for his first hit of the season. That helps us forget about yesterday's error and two bad throws. Fukudome draws another walk. DeRosa grounds to short on the first pitch and Fukudome is forced at second. Soto pops it up, and then snaps his bat in two slamming it to the ground.
Cubs 4, Brewers 2
Dempster makes quick work of Big Prince for his fourth strikeout. Dempster gets Braun looking and Vito from "The Sopranos" is in the house. Hall pops up to shallow center and Fukudome makes a basket catch on a dead sprint and keeps on running all the way to the dugout.
Gabe Kapler comes in to play center, replacing Gwynn. We'll be dipping into both pens here shortly. Carlos Marmol is up for the Cubs and Bush has throw 90-something pitches on the other side. There's also the possibility of a little payback. Dempster pitches well and then the pen blows it for him. You know, just to even things out. Pie flies out to right. Mike Fontenot hits for Dempster and doubles to the gap in right center. Soriano takes a ball to start his at-bat and I wonder if that's the first time in his career he's taken five straight of those. Soriano bloops one into left, Braun has some issues with it and Fontenot scores. That's Soriano's first hit of the season and that chases Bush from this party. Hi, I'm Seth McClung. Soriano takes off for second on McClung's first pitch and Kendall has no shot. Theriot doubles to right, scoring Soriano. With Lee up, Theriot steals third without even drawing a throw from Kendall. 'Bout time they ran on this guy. Though, I'm sure the ol' scouting report on McClung reads: Run at will. Lee chases a full-count pitch in the dirt for strike three. The count goes full to Ramirez and McClung pitches like he has nothing to do later. Ramirez pops out to Fielder to end the sixth.
Cubs 6, Brewers 2
Marmol joins the fray and gets Hart to pop out to Lee. Hardy flies out to center. Craig Counsell hits for the pitcher and he draws a walk. Kendall flies out to right and here's the Fremd high school gymnastics team to sing TMOTTBG.
OK, there was a double switch when they brought in McClung. Counsell is playing third. The gymnasts were shuffled right out of the booth and McClung strikes out Fukudome. DeRosa flies out to left. Soto flies out to center and so much for the seventh.
Cubs 6, Brewers 2
Marmol remains and will face Weeks to start the eighth. Weeks doubles to the left-field corner. Marmol blows a fastball past Kapler for strike three. Fielder hits one right into the shift but DeRosa, playing in shallow right, can't back-hand the one-hopper. Weeks scores on the play. Braun pops out to short. Gabe Gross hits for the pitcher. Gross pops out to shallow left to end the top half of the eighth.
Cubs 6, Brewers 3
Gross remains to play left; Derrick Turnbow to pitch. Pie to hit. Kerry Wood is up and throwing and, barring any more runs, will try to earn his first save. Turnbow hits Pie in the hand and that can't feel too good. Daryle Ward will hit in the ninth spot. Pie steals second. Kendall double clutched and then threw the ball into center. Pie wasn't really paying attention and didn't take third, though I think Kapler was in backing up, so not sure. That's four steals today for the Cubs and that's the Jason Kendall we all know and ... I guess the only word to describe Fielder's pants would be billowy. Ward walks. Ronny Cedeno runs for Ward. Soriano hits a grounder to the shortstop side of second where second baseman Weeks back-hands it and throws out Soriano. You do not see that every day. The other two runners advanced, and I'm surprised Cedeno didn't continue on and join Pie on third base. Theriot lines out to a drawn-in Counsell at third. Pie gets back to the bag in time. Lee bounces out to short and we move to the ninth and Wood.
Cubs 6, Brewers 3
Wood starts out Hart with two strikes down the middle. Hart lays off a slider once but can't the second time. One out. Hardy grounds out to second. Counsell singles to left and he's just that kind of guy, getting a hit with two outs in the ninth just to be pesky. Counsell takes second on the next pitch. Wood starts Kendall off with three straight balls before coming back with two strikes. Kendall takes a called third to end this one.
Final: Cubs 6, Brewers 3
That was more like it. Everyone can go back to liking Ryan Dempster. He looked sharp today. First win of the year. See you tomorrow.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times