Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Before Wednesday's Cubs game against the Reds in Cincinnati, where they were attempting to break their eight-game losing streak, Ryan Dempster was still in the bullpen warming up when the game started. This is pretty unusual, and rumors began to circulate that Dempster might not make the start; as it turned out, he had a sore hip while warming up. Rodrigo Lopez began to loosen up just in case Dempster couldn't go.
When Dempster finally did take the mound in the bottom of the first inning on a hot, humid day in Cincinnati, it looked like Dempster might not even make it out of that inning; he loaded the bases by hitting Brandon Phillips, giving up a single to Joey Votto, and walking Jay Bruce. But he got Miguel Cairo to pop up and Fred Lewis grounded out, and Dempster seemed like he might make it after all.
In the third inning, he gave up a run on a Drew Stubbs single, Stubbs' 18th stolen base (which is two more than the Cubs have as a team), a groundout and an RBI single by Jay Bruce. Given the Cubs' difficulties in scoring runs and/or coming from behind during their eight-game losing streak, it seemed as if the streak would inevitably reach nine.
But wonder of wonders, the Cubs hit not one but two home runs in the fourth inning -- back-to-back, in fact, by Carlos Pena with a man on, then Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs added a run in the seventh inning on a balk with Kosuke Fukudome on third base. Relievers Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol (11th save) finished up and the Cubs' long losing streak was history with a 4-1 win.
And also making history of a sort was Dempster. This win was the 107th of his career, evening up his all-time record at 107-107 and putting him in sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list among Canadian-born pitchers.
Dempster had been tied with Kirk McCaskill, who won 106 games in a 12-year career from 1985-1996 and is perhaps best known as one of only two MLB players (Tom Glavine was the other) to have been drafted by NHL teams. Topping the list of Canadian-born pitchers is Hall of Famer (and former Cub) Fergie Jenkins, who won 284 games for the Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox.
So congratulations on moving up this list, Ryan Dempster. And congratulations, Cubs, on breaking your longest losing streak in nine years.