By Matt Abbatacola
CHICAGO (WSCR) — On a 45 degree night at first pitch with a comfortable seven-run lead, Mike Quade sent Carlos Zambrano to the plate to pinch-hit for Ryan Dempster with the bases loaded.
It ended up working in Quade’s favor as Zambrano delivered a single to left-center scoring Tony Campana and Lou Montanez. When Zambrano was announced as the pinch-hitter, the crowd cheered the loudest it had all night in the Cubs 11-1 rout of the Mets.
Earlier in the day, Matt Garza was placed on the 15-day DL with a bone contusion in his right elbow. The Cubs rotation had already been down two starters with injuries to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner. Wells makes his return Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When Zambrano stepped to the plate, Quade had four position players on the bench. At the time, Zambrano and Dempster were the only two healthy starting pitchers left from the opening day rotation. Did Quade have any hesitation in using Big Z?
“Not really,” Quade continued, “like to let Z hit when he wants”.
I immediately questioned the decision as I saw Zambrano bounce out of the dugout.
“I didn’t think twice about it,” said his manager.
The Cubs opened things up in the game in the second inning as they sent 10 men to the plate scoring five times. Only one run was earned. They had another big inning in the seventh as they sent nine batters to the plate scoring four more runs to add to their already seven-run lead.
Montanez was brought up from Iowa to take Garza’s spot on the roster. He, like other Iowa players this year, paid immediate dividends. The 29 year-old outfielder doubled in his first at-bat scoring Aramis Ramirez. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Dempster tossed a season-high tying 7 innings of one-run, seven-hit ball. He is now 3-4 on the year and lowered his ERA to 6.29.
In Wednesday’s game, Casey Coleman (2-3 6.03) opposes Dillon Gee (3-0 3.44)