I’m not even mad. Taijuan Walker put on a pitching clinic last night in what had to be the fastest spring training game in the History of ever. The Cubs couldn’t do much of anything against the young right-hander, and they could only manage six hits in the 3-2 loss. Travis Wood wasn’t terrible, he just couldn’t keep up in the five innings he worked. Wood gave up three runs on five hits, while walking two, and striking out three, his spring ERA sits at 4.19 which is fine. The pen did some work last night, Pedro Strop, Phil Coke, and Hector Rondon combined to work three scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two, and striking out four.
Edwin Jackson did himself no favors today as the Athletics put a hurting on the right-hander. E-Jax gave up eight runs on nine hits in just 1.2 innings of work, his spring ERA sits at a meteoric 7.59, yuck. The result was never really in question today with the A’s scoring ten times through three frames en route to a 14-2 victory. How did the Cubs get their runs you ask? Well, the usual ways. Jorge Soler had an RBI single, and Kris Bryant increased his ridiculous home run total to nine on the spring. Bryant did make his third error of the spring this afternoon, but no one is talking about that, except the Cubs front office (wink, wink). Not a lot of things went well today, but one bright spot was the Cubs walked nine(!) times, sure they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but NINE WALKS.
The Cubs fell behind almost immediately as Jason Hammel did not have his best stuff, he allowed the first two men to reach base then gave up a loud three run homer to Nolan Arenado, just like that it was 3-0. A lead that the Cubs would not threaten until late, and even then they came up short. Things got much better for us in the second inning as Jorge Soler ripped a single then went along for the ride on Braynt’s absolute bomb. The only bright spot from the Cubs was Matt Szczur he made things happen, he went 2-for-2, with a run scored, a stolen base, and a dinger.
— Cubs Nation (@CubsNation14) March 7, 2015
The Cubs have had their issues scoring runs, which is what makes what they did today that much more surprising. In another close game it looked the Cubs were going to follow the same script they have so many times this year. Play a competitive game then for whatever reason have the wheels fall off in the late innings, today they returned the favor to the Brewers. A pair of solo home runs got the Cubs on the board in the 5th and sixth inning by Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson. Heading to the 7th inning the game was tied and two and that’s when the Cubs offense kicked it into high gear. One run in the 7th, two runs in the 8th, and three runs in the 9th resulted in the Cubs avoiding the sweep with a 8-2 victory. The top of the order had a lot to do with the Cubs success today as the one, two, and three hitters combined to go 7-for-15, anytime that happens runs are usually in abundance. Jeff Samardzija might not have had his best stuff but he was able to get through five solid innings to end up with a no decision. Russell, Wood, and Bowden each worked a scoreless inning down the stretch to close out the Brewers. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Chris Volstad has been put on notice in my opinion. For te 18th straight time Volstad walked away from a game in which he started with something other than a win. Volstad was good for a little while, then he was Chris Volstad in the 6th inning as he imploded giving up five runs all earned on his way to his fifth loss of the season. The Cubs offense didn’t do much to help him out as they only managed two runs on five hits against Shaun Marcum, why, because Marcum has a change-up and those guys usually baffle the Cubs. Tony Campana had a strong day at the plate going 2-for-4 with an RBI double.
The only good thing to take away from this game is the Cubs showing Ryan Braun that he can’t act like a 5-year-old on the field after getting hit by a pitch. Braun overreacted in a big way when he was hit by a Lendy Castillo pitch last night in the 13th inning by launching his bat some 20 feet in the air. He got what he deserved in the first inning when Volstad plunked him, Marcum returned the favor by hitting Soriano in the next inning, both teams were warned and that was the end of it. The Brewers however, got the last laugh as they walked away with the most important thing, a victory. Coming into this series the Cubs were playing well, and they were a few pitches away from starting this series with a win, now they have to win tomorrow to avoid a sweep and quite possibly a prolonged losing streak. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Now that’s a baseball game right there, I hope you didn’t blink at all because if you did you probably missed another stellar Cubs victory. Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson were both at the top of their game this afternoon and the result was a 1-0 Cubs victory in just two hours and five minutes. After six straight shut down innings the door was open for the Cubs and they busted through. David DeJesus led the 7th off with a base hit, Campana sacrficed him to second, and Castro grounded out to the right side to move him to third with two outs. Then Bryan LaHair came up with a ginormous hit to put the Cubs on top 1-0 which was all they needed.
Cubs starters have been dominant, especially in this series, and Maholm was no different today. Maholm worked seven spotless innings only allowing three hits while earning not only his fourth win of the season but his fourth straight victory. A 4-2 home stand is good, it’s great considering the opponents. The Cubs won four of six from two of the best teams in the National League, they are showing just how good they can be, and it’s a treat to watch. Full box score and highlights after the jump.
Ryan Dempster hasn’t had a win in his last 13 starts going back to last season, make that 14, and it’s not for a lack of effort. Dempster was once again brilliant Tuesday night going 7 strong innings and only allowing one run. However, much like all of his starts this year the Cubs offense couldn’t put anything together. Randall Delgado and the Braves bullpen held the Cubs at bay all night, only allowing one run on five hits. The real damage done tonight was self-inflicted with most of it coming from Kerry Wood. Wood walked the first two hitters he faced in the 8th inning with the game tied at one, one of those hitters was giving up an out in an attempt to sacrifice a runner to second, that’s usually spells disaster. Wood finally found the strike zone with the bases loaded and Dan Uggla smacked that pitch into center field scoring two runs to give the Braves a 3-1 lead and that’s how it would end. Full box score and highlights after the jump.