Ryan Dempster picks up first win; Cubs snap 11-game road skid
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 5, 2012 10:47PM
Chicago Cubs' pitcher Ryan Dempster pitches to a Milwaukee Brewer batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:50AM
MILWAUKEE — This might have been one for the fans, if there had been many willing to drive up from Chicago to catch the last-place Cubs against the fourth-place Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Instead, the 10-0 win that snapped the Cubs’ franchise-record 11-game road losing streak served as much as a road map for where the Cubs plan to go after this week’s draft than anything else.
The lowest-attended Cubs game in Milwaukee in five years took on a showcase-showdown look on the field as guys expected to be traded and/or heavily shopped made the Cubs’ case for their value.
And Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano were at the top of that class Tuesday.
Dempster, who missed the San Francisco series over the weekend to attend to a personal matter, returned in a big way with seven scoreless innings to earn his first win in 19 starts, dating to Aug. 11. He lowered his ERA to 2.59.
Team president Theo Epstein has chatted with the respected veteran about the club’s intentions, and other teams already have begun targeting him.
‘‘I can’t think about that stuff,’’ said Dempster, who admitted thinking perfect game after retiring the first 15 batters. ‘‘Whatever happens is going to happen.’’
The buzz among baseball insiders is that Dempster will land with the Los Angeles Dodgers, especially with former Cubs teammate and pal Ted Lilly on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Several sources from other teams consider Dempster one of the more attractive players in the trade market because of his performances this season and his strong makeup.
He used an especially good slider to get through the perfect five, then pitched around a leadoff double to Ryan Braun in the seventh to leave Braun standing there.
Dempster has full no-trade rights as a player with 10 years in the big leagues, including the last five with the Cubs. He hasn’t ruled out allowing a trade.
If Dempster seems the likeliest to be traded, Soriano might be the one the Cubs would like most to trade, assuming they can get a team to agree to pick up at least some of the $48 million left on his contract.
His ninth home run since May 15 — a three-run shot in the first — might have helped that cause.
‘‘I don’t know; I don’t want to try to think too much,’’ said Soriano, who also has full no-trade rights but has said for more than a year that he won’t stand in the way of a trade. ‘‘The [front] office, they know what they have to do. My part is to play the game.’’
Even shortstop Starlin Castro, one of the few guys the Cubs say they’re not making available despite a report last week suggesting otherwise, delivered as many hits (two) the first five innings as he did the first four games of the road trip combined. Then he added a double leading off the eighth.
The big offensive night came one day after forgetting the number of outs in a key inning and getting a scolding from manager Dale Sveum.