The Cubs’ 2003 pitching staff set the major league single-season strikeout record of 1,404 punchouts.
Starters Kerry Wood (266), Mark Prior (245), Matt Clement (171), Carlos Zambrano (168) & Shawn Estes (103) combined for 953 strikeouts.
Relievers Kyle Farnsworth (92), Mike Remlinger (83) & Juan Cruz (65) accounted for another 240….closer Joe Borowski added (66) strikeouts pushing the season total to 1,259…and various other hurlers for Chicago managed a combined 145 strikeouts helping achieve the new mark.
But as we’ve reached the final regular season game of 2012, the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching staff has come within 9 strikeouts of breaking the Cubs’ 2003 record.
Our Cubs of yesteryear, however, have caught a huge break with Milwaukee choosing to sit its regularly scheduled starter, and staff ace, Yovani Gallardo (16-9, 3.66), in the final regular season game against San Diego.
Gallardo’s 204 punchouts are 5th best in the National League. Twice this season he’s struck out 10 or more batters in a game…and 7 times he’s recorded 8 or more strikeouts in a single outing.
In place of Gallardo the Brewers send right-hander Josh Stinson to the mound–to make his first major league start. In five relief appearances this season Stinson has struck out a grand total of 3 batters…a pretty good swing of fortune in the ’03 Cubs’ favor.
Meanwhile, the Padres have the 12th most strikeouts in the majors this year, two ahead of the Cubs’ (1,230) K’s. And given the Padres have accounted for 8 & 10 strikeouts over its past 2 games in Milwaukee…the Cubs’ high-water mark in K’s might just be the latest record ready to be broken.
The last time Ryan Dempster made a big-game start was October 1, 2008 against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field.
As many of you remember, Dempster didn’t fare too well. He appeared riddled with early-game jitters and his overall performance actually felt worse than his pitching line: 4.2 innings, 4-ER, 4-H, 2-K…7 walks.
James Loney’s fifth-inning grand slam off Dempster erased an early 2-0 Cubs lead and sent Chicago spiraling towards a 7-2 loss–and eventual series sweep at the hands of Los Angeles.
Now four years later, Dempster has his chance at redeeming his big-game poise when starting at Oakland later this afternoon (2:35pm CST). He has not faced the A’s this season.
Meanwhile, having dropped two-straight against the Athletics, Texas is on the brink of wasting what was once a 13-game lead over Oakland. The two clubs enter Game 162 tied atop the AL West division.
Officially, it’s not a playoff game, but it might as well be given the circumstances. And now, more than ever, the Rangers need Dempster to deliver a gem or risk facing a one-game playoff in the wild card round to advance in October.
Dempster’s been as good as advertised since joining the Rangers at the trade deadline (7-3, 4.64), but he’ll have his hands full against a red-hot A’s club that’s won 5-straight and sends AJ Griffin to the mound who’s (7-1, 2.71) over his last 14-starts.
For Cubs fans there’s plenty to root for, and against, depending on how bitter you are from Dempster’s fallout with Chicago after he surprisingly turned down what would have been a lucrative trade with Atlanta this past July.
However, this is exactly what Dempster was holding out for…a chance to play meaningful baseball in October…and a chance to right his playoff misfortunes with the Cubs in 2007-08. Batter up…
A couple of interesting notes while waiting for the first series in 50-years between 100-loss clubs to play out this afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The Astros (54-106) at Cubs (60-101) series marks the first time since 1962 triple-digit loss teams have squared off against one another…and the Cubs, not surprisingly, were also part of that history with its (59-103) record taking on the lowly expansion Mets (40-120). Good grief.
MARK DeROSA: Davey Johnson penciled former Cub Mark DeRosa into the Nationals’ starting lineup against the Phillies Tuesday night.
That’s hardly news worthy, except for the fact DeRosa was the starting shortstop–a position he hasn’t played since doing so for a single inning while with Chicago in 2008.
DeRosa’s last start at SS came with Texas in 2006. D-Ro (.198, 0 HR, 6 RBI) finished last night’s game 2-for-4 with a double in the Nats’ 4-2 win at Washington.
ADAM GREENBERG: Very cool to watch Adam Greenberg’s at-bat with the Marlins. It was a quick, three strikes and yer’ out…but exciting and heart-felt, nonetheless.
Although some might feel Greenberg was dealt a tough break facing knuckleballer RA Dickey, I think it may have been a blessing.
With the odds already terribly low Greenberg gets a base knock in his lone at-bat, striking out against a legitimate stud like Dickey should add more closure to Greenberg’s career than had he whiffed against say, Chris Volstad. Whereas there’s absolutely no shame in Greenberg fanning against the NL leader in strikeouts and potential Cy Young Award winner.
And is it just me, or do you get the feeling this isn’t Greenberg’s last stop in the major leagues? I think there’s a real chance he ends up on a big league spring roster…you never know.
VIDEO: Here’s a terrific video recapping the 20-years of futility for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who enter the season finale (79-82). Click here
And here’s a funny blurb about the Buccos from BaconSports.com with a slight Cubs reference:
“The Pirates have been nothing short of a Milton Bradley disaster in the second half of the season and seem as likely to win 5 of their next 6 games as Rae Carruth has at starting at WR for the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.”
So much for the Cubs ending the season on a high note. Not even a win this afternoon can erase the embarrassment (and make no mistake, that’s what this is) of being shutout in consecutive home games against the major’s worst team.
As quickly as I acknowledge on Monday that the Astros would be the one team we could expect the Cubs to sweep to finish the season, I failed to mention the Cubs are equally the one club Houston could sweep to end the year–and it could very well happen with the Astros having won the first 2 games.
And over those last 2 games the Cubs have collected all of 6 hits, struck out 19-times and committed more errors (2) than runs scored (0).
- Starlin’s 27th miscue of the season are two fewer than he had last season (29).
- Not a good night for Alberto Cabrera (1-1, 5.48): 0.1 inning, 2 walks, 1 error, a wild pitch and 1 run allowed.
- This was easily Chris Volstad’s (3-12, 6.31) best start of the season: 7.0 innings, 1 ER, 5 H, 6 K and no walks on 92-pitches. It’s too little, too late if you ask me. And I’d be disappointed if he’s back next spring, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is, either. This club has zero starting pitching depth.
- I made my final appearance of the season at Wrigley last night. Obviously, I’m pretty bummed the Cubs couldn’t come up with a better effort than what they showed. It’s going to be another long winter waiting for Opening Day with mixed emotions about the relief of this dreadful season coming to a close and the void of not having baseball on a regular basis. So here’s to Year 2 of the Rebuild.