Ryan Dempster: not your day.
I'll let Josh review this game later on in the minor league wrap, but it seems to me that following the Iowa/Memphis game today -- in which both managers were ejected and at this writing, is in the 15th inning tied 7-7, would have been more entertaining than watching the Cubs lose to the Mets 18-5 and give the Mets three five-run innings. This included five RBI for Mets rookie SS Ruben Tejada, who came into the game hitting .185 with eight total RBI in 184 plate appearances and never more than one RBI in a game before today, and two RBI from Mets pitcher Jon Niese, who had one career RBI in 71 plate appearances before today.
My friend Dave said that if Ryne Sandberg had this good a record with Iowa with some of the guys now on the major league pitching staff, he should be manager of the decade. He has a point, too. Marcos Mateo: not a major league pitcher. Thomas Diamond: not a major league pitcher. James Russell: well, maybe a situational lefty next year.
Whoever is named manager of the Cubs next year, he and Jim Hendry have to rebuild the back end of the bullpen, because it's awful. And what on Earth was Mike Quade doing, putting Sean Marshall in the game with one out to go and the Cubs down 13 runs? That's the time you put in one of your backup position players to pitch. How much fun would it have been to watch Kosuke Fukudome pitch? Marshall shouldn't have been anywhere near that game.
That's a minor quibble, after Ryan Dempster struggled his way into the fifth inning. Quade was clearly leaving him in there to try to get him his 100th career win. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, with the team far out of pennant contention. But Dempster couldn't seal the deal in the fifth inning, and thanks to Tyler Colvin trying to throw a ball in before he had it and then dropping it, Dempster wound up giving up four unearned runs in the fifth inning.
Even then, the Cubs had a shot at getting back into the game when Geovany Soto hit a home run right to our bench in left field leading off the seventh. In four and a half years in that corner, that's the first direct hit. Unfortunately, it bounced off the bench and down several rows, where it landed in the hands of a Mets fan. On the replay you can see us in the top row looking for it -- I thought it had rolled under our bench, but I never saw it bounce down.
Oh, well. After Geo's home run, the score was 8-5 and with the Mets bullpen having been shaky the last two days, it looked like the Cubs had a shot. That's before Russell and Diamond came in and put the game far out of reach. For a time it looked like the Cubs might have their second 16-5 loss in two weeks, but instead the walks and hits kept on coming in the ninth. Cubs pitchers wound up giving up nine walks and 21 hits in their worst loss of the year. (And let's not even talk about the wave, which went around Wrigley three times. That simply does not belong at Wrigley, or any stadium. It's a tired old gimmick. Give it up.)
The games don't mean that much right now, but it will be interesting to see how Quade leads the team back in tomorrow's game against Houston. If the Cubs do bounce back and win, and maybe win another series, it's a point in Quade's favor. A minor point, maybe, but a point nevertheless.
Meanwhile, Iowa's game -- with Ryne Sandberg watching from the stands after being tossed -- is still going. Josh's recap will be up later tonight.