Chicago Cubs Game 1, 4/1/11, Pirates

Cubs game 1, 4/1/11 hosting the Pirates.

I was not able to watch the game live so this account was done after that fact from a Tivo viewing.

The traditional opening day ceremonies included a moment of silence in honor of Cubs legend Ron Santo.

1st Inning – Top

Dempster started out slowly going to 3-0 on leadoff hitter before inducing a ground ball to short. Castro makes a nice behind the second base bag and does before making the throw to first to just beat Tabata at first.

McCutchen hits a ringing double up the left center field gap the reaches the left field wall.

Dempster strikes out Overbay on four pitches stranding McCutchen at second. Dempster ends up with a respectable 13 pitch first inning.

1st inning – Bottom

Kevin Correia get the opening day start for the Pirates.

On a 0-1 count Fukudome hits a routine fly ball to the edge of the warning track in left center field that McCutchen caught routinely.

On a 1-0 count Castro sharply hits a belt high changeup right at third baseman Pedro Alvarez  that is bobbled allowing Castro to reach first base. Castro is credited with a hit. The ball was sharply hit but right at Alvarez so in my opinion it could possibly have been ruled an error.

On a 1-1 count Byrd tops a ball to third the Alvarez fields and throws over the head of a leaping Overbay at first base. Jones fields the ball in the right field bullpen and makes a good throw to the plate, but the throw is just late as Castro makes a head first slide to the plate scoring the first run of the season for the Cubs.

Correia works through the inning without further damage but threw 18 pitches in the inning.

2nd inning – Top

Dempster retires Alvarez, Doumit and Jones in order on 12 pitches in the second inning.

2nd Inning – Bottom

With one out Barney singles on a line drive to right on a 2-2 pitch.

Dempster strikes out on three s straight missed  bunt attempts for the second out. The inability of Dempster to get the bunt down is frustrating. This is the type of little thing the Cubs have not done the past couple of years costing themselves valuable scoring opportunities.

Barney is caught stealing on a strike two pitch to Fukudome ending the inning.

Correia finishes the second inning with a respectable 32 pitches logged.

3rd inning – Top

Dempster retires Cedeno, Correia and Tabata in order on 13 pitches in the third.

Dempster has good pitch count of 38 through 3 innings.

3rd inning Bottom

Fukudome singles sharply to right on the fifth pitch of the at bat.

On a 2-0 count Castro hits a sharp one hopper to second baseman Walker who was shaded up the middle. Walker babbles the ball before getting a weak toss to second base to force out Fukudome.

On a two count Byrd lines a single to center field.

The Cubs now have an excellent scoring opportunity with runners on first and second and one out with Ramirez at the plate.

The Cubs need to add to their lead in this situation.

Ramirez singles sharply to left on a ball fielded on one hop by left fielder Tabata.

Castro has to play it safe and hold at third.

The Cubs are now set up for a big inning was the base loaded , one out and the feast or famine Pena at the plate.

On a 1-0 Pena hits a grounder that Walker fields to his left and wheels throwing to second erasing Ramirez and scoring Castro. Pena earns an RBI for the ground out.

Pena appeared to chase a changeup on the outer half of the plate. I would have liked to see Pena swing at a better pitch being up 1-0 in the count.

On a 3-1 count Soto hits a broken bat grounder to short that is easily fielded by Cedeno who flips to Walker covering second to end the inning.

Although the Cubs did score a run the inning felt like wasted opportunity to put additional runs on the board.

Corriea threw 20 pitches in the inning upping his total to 52 after three innings.

4th Inning – Top

Dempster retires Walker and McCutchen before giving up a double to Overbay. Alvarez strikes out swinging.

4th Inning – Bottom

Corriea retires Soriano, Barney and Dempster in order  on 8 pitches.

5th Inning – Top

Doumit singles to center field to lead off the inning.

Jones grounds out Ramirez to Pena advancing Doumit to second base.

Dempster walks Cedeno on 6 pitches giving the Pirates a good scoring opportunity with runners on first and second with 1 out.

On the first pitch Correia lays down a sacrifice bunt the is fielded by Dempster and thrown to Pena at first to record the second out of the inning.

Doumit and Cedeno move up to second and third on the successful sacrifice by Correia.

Dempster walks Tabata on 6 pitches to load the bases.

Neil Walker was up next in what would be the key at bat of the game. Walker worked the count to 3-2 on 5 pitches. Walker fouled off the sixth pitch of the at bat setting up the key pitch of the game.

Dempster threw the 7th pitch at the knees over the middle of the plate and Walker blasted it into the top row of the leftfield bleachers before it bounced over the wall onto Waveland Avenue for a Grand Slam.

That swing of Walker’s bat turned a 2-0 Cubs lead into a 4-2 Pirates lead.

It was disappointing to see Dempster fall apart in the inning. The two walks Dempster issued came back to haunt him.

5th Inning – Bottom

Corriea has an easy shutdown inning retiring Fukudome, Castro and Byrd in order on 12 pitches.

6th Inning – Top

Dempster works around walks to Overbay and Jones to keep the Pirates off the board in the 6th. Dempster had to work hard throwing 22 pitches in the inning.

6th Inning – Bottom

Ramirez hits a leadoff single and Correia rebounds retiring Pena, Soto and Soriano to end the inning.

The Pirates still lead 4-2.

7th Inning – Top

Dempster retires Correia and Tabata on a strikeout and ground out to start the top of the 7th

Walker hits a 2-out double to right and McCutchen follows with a 2-out 2-run homer giving the Pirates a 6-3 lead. Dempster is knocked from the game and replaced by James Russell.

Russell strikes out Overbay to end the inning. But the Cubs are now trailing by three runs heading to the bottom of the 7th inning.

7th Inning – Bottom

Barney reached on an infield popup that was deflected by Correia.

Colvin struck out swining.

Fukudome lines a single to right field driving in Barney making the score 6-3.

Castro singles to right field advancing Fukuidome to second base.

Byrd and Ramirez  came to the plate representing the potential tying run. Both flied out to center fielder McCutchen to end the threat for the Cubs.

8th Inning – Top

Jason Grabow works a scoreless top of the 8th for the Cubs.

Alvarez grounded out Barney to Pena to lead off the inning.

Doumit walked on 5 pitches before Grabow rebounded to retire Diaz and Cedeno to end the top of the 8th inning.

8th Inning – Bottom

Evan Meek worked a scoreless bottom of the 8th pitching around a leadoff single by Pena.

After the Pena single he retired Soto, Soriano and Barney to end the inning.

9th Inning Top

Jeff Samardzija work a scoreless 9th inning on 23 pitches.  Samardzija was fortunate to work through the inning without allowing any runs. With one out Overbay hit a line drive to Castro who doubled off Walker off second base to end the inning.

Samardzija was very fortunate to get out of the inning without giving up any runs. He needs to prove he can consistently get hitters out at the major league level. The Cubs are obviously running out of patience waiting for Samardzija to return to his 2008 form.

9th Inning – Bottom

The Cubs were able to get the tying run to the plate before Byrd struck out and Ramirez grounded out to end the game.

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