D'backs jump all over Dempster, crush Cubs

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D'backs jump all over Dempster, crush Cubs

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 12:31 a.m.

Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) Stephen Drew hit his first career grand slam to spark an Arizona franchise-record, seven-run first inning and the Diamondbacks routed the Chicago Cubs 11-2 on Thursday night.Drew finished with a career-best five RBIs, Miguel Montero also homered and drove in three runs, and Barry Enright (1-2) won his first game since Sept. 1 for the Diamondbacks, who have won three of four.Ryan Dempster (1-3) recorded the shortest outing of his 266-start career, recording only one out and allowing seven runs, four hits, four walks and a hit batter.The Cubs have lost four straight and six of seven.Enright, who had been 0-7 with a 7.40 ERA in nine starts since his previous victory, allowed one run and three hits in the first six innings before tiring in the seventh. He gave up two runs, five hits and four walks. Enright struck out four in a season-high 6 2-3 innings.Enright also hit a looping RBI single to right for his first hit of the year, and Chris Young added a two-run single to left in the first. Arizona sent 12 hitters to the plate in the inning against Dempster and reliever Justin Berg.Dempster's ERA ballooned from 7.63 to 9.28.The seven runs were the most for the Diamondbacks in any inning this season and topped by one the franchise mark of six first-inning runs accomplished seven times, most recently on Aug. 28 against San Francisco.Arizona had scored nine first-inning runs in its first 23 games combined.Montero hit an RBI double to left in the second and homered to right in the third against Berg to give the Diamondbacks a 10-1 lead.Koyie Hill hit a solo homer to right in the third, and Marlon Byrd singled and scored on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Reed Johnson in the seventh against Enright.Drew drove in Young with an RBI groundout in the seventh to make it 11-2.Josh Collmenter allowed only a walk in 2 1-3 innings in relief of Enright.NOTES
Dempster failed to get out of the first inning only once before, recording only two outs on Oct. 5, 2001 for Florida against Atlanta. Drew's grand slam was the 46th in Diamondbacks history and the first since Sept. 1 when Brandon Allen hit one against San Diego. Young became the 23rd Diamondbacks player to have two hits in the first inning. Arizona third-base coach Matt Williams made his season debut in the coaching box after missing nearly a month because of a broken foot.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs bring Tommy La Stella back to big league team, option Spencer Patton

Cubs bring Tommy La Stella back to big league team, option Spencer Patton

Tommy La Stella is back with the Cubs.

The team announced Wednesday that the infielder was recalled from Triple-A Iowa, with reliever Spencer Patton heading back to Iowa to make room for La Stella.

La Stella made headlines when he refused to report to the minors following his demotion on July 28. He spent several weeks away from the organization and even said in one interview he was contemplating retirement. He eventually made his way to the minors, getting 27 at-bats in eight games while working his way back to big league shape. He hit .296 with a pair of doubles and four runs scored in those eight games with Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.

On the season, La Stella is hitting .295 with a .388 on-base percentage, two home runs, eight RBIs and 14 runs scored in 51 games.

La Stella was in the Cubs' lineup for Wednesday's series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates, batting seventh and playing second base.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

The Cubs wrap up their three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from the North Side starts at 7 p.m., and be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA)

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How Kyle Hendricks transformed into a Cy Young-level performer for Cubs

How Kyle Hendricks transformed into a Cy Young-level performer for Cubs

No, Kyle Hendricks didn’t plan to quietly nudge his way into the Cy Young Award conversation when he outlined his goals for 2016. But here he is, leading the majors with a 2.09 ERA while the Cubs watch their nominal fifth starter transform into a dominant pitcher who should be at or near the front of a playoff rotation.

“I had my sights set a little lower,” Hendricks admitted. “I’m just taking it in stride.”

Hendricks continued his systematic destruction of National League lineups on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, shutting down the Pittsburgh Pirates during a 3-0 victory as the Cubs continued their march toward a division title and what they expect will be a deep run into October.

The magic number to clinch the NL Central is 18 after Hendricks crafted seven scoreless innings against a dangerous Pittsburgh lineup, not allowing a Pirate to go past second base while working efficiently (99 pitches, 61 strikes) during a clean game that lasted only two hours and 36 minutes.

On the one-year anniversary of Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter/onesie press conference at Dodger Stadium, Hendricks didn’t allow a hit until Gregory Polanco’s soft single to center field leading off the fifth inning. Hendricks (13-7) has entered his own zone — where he’s confident enough to throw whatever he wants whenever he wants — the way Arrieta did during last year’s Cy Young campaign.

“It’s just a different method,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Jake was a little bit more power — obvious power — but (Kyle’s) got a power changeup. (And) Jake had this freaky movement (on his fastball) — and so does Kyle. It’s just maybe not as hard but still equally effective. Give him credit. Stop looking at the gun. This guy’s really good.”

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The radar readings don’t matter as much when Hendricks can pinpoint two- and four-seam fastballs while dropping curveballs that play off his changeup, neutralizing hitters to the point where entire opposing lineups become very-good-hitting pitchers (.205 average/.581 OPS).

When Hendricks is on, Miguel Montero describes his job as putting down fingers and catching the ball.

“It’s all about location,” Montero said. “Nowadays, everybody’s just trying to overpower everybody (else) and they forget about the secondary stuff.

“He knows he doesn’t throw as hard, but he locates his fastball. He locates his secondary stuff and he works the edges. He worked the corners, and that’s actually even harder to hit than 97 (mph) down the middle. Even if you know the fastball’s coming, or the changeup’s coming, (when he executes the) pitch, you can’t do much with it.”

The Cubs (84-47) gave Hendricks — a pitcher already working with an understated confidence and a belief in his scouting reports — an early lead when Anthony Rizzo slammed a Chad Kuhl fastball off the small video panel above the right-field wall for a two-run homer in the first inning.

Whether or not Rizzo can catch up to Kris Bryant in the MVP race, Hendricks has to be among the leading Cy Young candidates, given his metrics (0.98 WHIP), remarkable consistency (18 straight starts with three earned runs or less) and strong August push (4-0 with a 1.28 ERA in six starts).

Hendricks has done it at home (9-1 with a 1.21 ERA through 14 games at Wrigley Field) and helped preserve the bullpen (3-0 with a 0.79 ERA in three starts following an extra-inning game the day before).

“It’s amazing how he does it,” Rizzo said. “He’s not the guy who’s getting away with plus-plus stuff. He’s just executing his game plan. He knows how to attack hitters. He studies hitters. And he went to Dartmouth and has a really good education, so he out-tricks guys.”

But this is much more than just a hot streak or a run of good matchups. Hendricks now ranks fifth in career ERA (2.96) among all active pitchers with at least 70 starts, trailing only Jose Fernandez, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.

Not that Hendricks is wondering about whether or not he will start Game 1 in the playoffs or where he will finish in the Cy Young voting compared to big-money aces like Max Scherzer.

“You can’t look that far in the future in this game, because it will come up and bite you,” Hendricks said. “I’m definitely a different pitcher than a lot of those guys. But, again, getting noticed, that kind of stuff, I’m just out there trying to pitch my game.”