Kyle Hendricks allowed only three singles over six shutout innings to drop his ERA to 2.41, Lowe than anyone in the NL not named Clayton Kershaw (1.79) or Madison Bumgarner (1.94). The new Cubs ace had only three strikeouts, but he clearly had the visiting Rangers off balance all afternoon. Okay, so maybe he’s not the best pitcher on the roster, but this kid is really, really good.
And he twirled his latest gem under a fair bit of pressure, given the lack of early run support. A Javy Baez single pushed Addison Russell home from second (after a double he smoked into left) for the only run Hendricks and the Cubs would need. The real action would take place in the 6th, a high-scoring inning scored by the styling a of a man some assumed had to have been high.
That’s because the inimitable Ryan Dempster was doing his impersonation of Daniel Stern’s character from Rookie of the Year doing Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray. It was an affront to comedy and an all-out forward assault on listeners and viewers alike. Most guest conductors spend a little time in both the radio and TV booths, which is fine. But Demp, in full Halloween-party Harry Caray getup, spent the 6th inning with Pat and Ron on The Score before doing six outs with Len and JD in the 7th.
Ryan Dempster bringing the Harry Caray act to a new level at Wrigley! pic.twitter.com/nNEgUgpeW7
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 15, 2016
It was…interesting. I give all the credit in the world to the broadcasters, all of whom went along with the gag. Based on the social media reaction, however, I’m not so sure the general public would have been so accommodating.
I haven't been this bothered by a Ryan Dempster performance since Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS.
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) July 15, 2016
Dempster's impersonation of an impersonation borders on disrespectful. #Cubs
— Laurence Holmes (@LaurenceWHolmes) July 15, 2016
The real Harry Caray should come straight up from hell and punch Ryan Dempster in the nuts.
— Beach House Enjoyer (@torqpenderloin) July 15, 2016
Not everyone felt the need to commit harikari after hearing the (very prolonged) bastardization of Harry Caray though. In fact, there were plenty of fans who legitimately enjoyed it. If you’re one of them, well, good for you, I guess.
What do you think of Ryan Dempster's Harry Caray schtick?
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) July 15, 2016
Ah, but here’s the thing: the Cubs scored five runs with that hot mess poisoning the airwaves. What if Demp is the key to a big second-half run? Would you be willing to pour lighter fluid on your very soul if it resulted in a World Series title? Think about it.
Anyway, back to the game, which was the kind of walkover victory we’d grown accustomed earlier in the season. It had a little of everything, from patient at-bats to timely hits to Willson Contreras being awesome to Laz Diaz calling balls on belt-high pitches.
Only five Cubs collected hits, but they took five bases on balls and also benefited from Prince Fielder’s DH-worthy glove at first. They sent 10 men to the plate in the 6th and put the game out of reach, relying on the bullpen for three shutout frames. Hope for an all-former-Rangers-farmhands game was ruined by getting two outs from Travis Wood and one from Pedro Strop, but the effort was acceptable nonetheless.
I suppose it’s fitting that Hendricks dominated a game in which the man he was traded for violated our senses from the booths. Then Carl Edwards Jr and Justin Grimm helped to slam the door in the Rangers’ face. Thank God Matt Garza wasn’t there as well.
Questionable antics aside, it was a great way to open the second half and could be just the catalyst this team needs to go on a nice run.