Cubs' Bullpen Wastes Terrific Outing From Ryan Dempster On Opening Day

By Randy Holt

The Chicago Cubs‘ bullpen picked up right where they left off on the much anticipated Opening Day 2012, much to the shock of absolutely no one.

Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol both surrendered runs in the eighth and ninth innings en route to their 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

What makes the loss tougher to take is how well Ryan Dempster pitched in his first outing of the season. He didn’t exactly “outduel” Stephen Strasburg, but looked very good overall.

He had to battle out of some early trouble, but didn’t allow a run over 7 2/3 innings and struck out 10, looking sharp after a couple of slow innings to start the game. After last season, it’s certainly a positive sign for Dempster.

But the already questionable bullpen surrendered the two runs to take away a potential win from Dempster, and a first career win for Dale Sveum. Wood and Marmol labored through their inning and a third of work, with Wood walking three hitters in the eighth and Marmol surrendering the go-ahead run in the ninth. At least he didn’t walk anyone.

In the batter’s box, things also looked similar to last season. The patience wasn’t there against Strasburg, with the only run coming via a Marlon Byrd RBI single. Add that to the questionable base running from Alfonso Soriano, who was caught stealing third, and Joe Mather, who was thrown out at home with one out in the ninth (no thanks to Jeff Baker and his grounder to third) and you wonder what’s different about this 2012 Cubs club.

Obviously Dempster was a tremendous bright spot. But don’t count out Ian Stewart, who missed a tying home run by inches in the ninth, instead hustling for a triple. I’m expecting decent sized things from this guy. Oh yeah, Bill Murray was fun to watch as well.

The good news is that it’s one game out of 162. It’s impossible to extrapolate the results of one game over the other 161. We hope. This team is going to win some games, we’ll just have to wait and see how many.

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