It wasn’t the desired result for the Cubs but there were plenty of things to like in the Cubs spring training opener today against the Brewers. Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Spencer Patton combined to four hit the Brewers while walking one, and striking out thirteen. The bats were slow to get going in this one as the Cubs group of hitters could only push across one run on seven hits. Javier Baez got the start in center today, and struggled in the early going. He played an out (maybe a double) into a triple right off the bat, then one hitter later he dropped a fly ball, it’ll get better.
Some of today’s standouts:
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.
At this point I wonder if baseball is even hard for Kris Bryant, because it doesn’t look like it is. Another day, another two dinger game for Bryant as he finished the day 2-for-2 with said two dingers, a walk, and FIVE RBI, goodness. The rest of the Cubs followed Bryant’s lead as they pounded out sixteen hits en route to scoring twelve runs to beat the Mariners 12-10. Lost in the Bryant madness is the spring that Addison Russell is having, Russell went 2-for-3 with his first homer of the spring, a run scored, and two RBI, he’s now hitting .409 on the spring. Last year the Cubs cracked their fair share of homers, this spring they have hit 28 which leads all of baseball, that includes the four they hit today (Bryant, Russell, Castillo, Bryant). After a horrendous 1-8-1 start the Cubs are now 9-10-1, playing much better baseball, and getting results.
Nothing was going right for the Cubs early on as Travis Wood couldn’t keep the ball down, and the Sox took advantage. A three spot for the Sox in the first put the Cubs in a hole but they successfully dug out with the long ball. On the day, the Cubs “B” lineup cracked four dingers, turning that 3-0 deficit into a 10-7 victory. Back to Wood, he worked in and out of trouble all day, he tossed 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on eleven (!) hits while walking none, and striking out two. Back to the dingers, David Ross, Arismendy Alcantara, Taylor Teagarden, and Anthony Giansanti all left the yard, tasty. It was another strong game from Albert Almora, no he didn’t take a lot of pitches, but finished the day 2-for-4 with a run scored, he’s now hitting .381 on the spring.
You would think a five run lead with Jake Arrieta on the mound would be safe, it almost wasn’t. The Dodgers knocked around Arrieta in the second inning as they scored four times to cut a five run deficit to one. To Arrieta’s credit he battled and was able to work four innings, giving up said four runs on seven hits while walking two, and striking out five. The bullpen did the job today as C.J. Edwards, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Joe Ortiz combined to work five scoreless innings, giving up five hits while walking one, and striking out four.
A lot of good swings from the Cubs today as they pounded out thirteen hits while scoring seven times. Chris Coghlan made some loud noises with his bat, he finished the day 1-for-3 with a two-run blast, three RBI, and a run scored. Jorge Soler, and Albert Almora both continued their strong springs this afternoon with two hits each. Almora finished the day 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .353 on the spring. After starting the spring 1-8-1, the Cubs have now won six of seven, and are playing all around better baseball.
Jason Hammel cemented his status as the Cubs number three starter this afternoon by baffling the defending AL Champ Royals in a 4-3 win. Hammel was brilliant going four scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out three, the outing lowered his spring ERA to six, it’s been rough. Phil Coke, Zac Rosscup, and Stephen Perakslis all had scoreless outings with Perakslis nailed down the save. Anthony Rizzo who has struggled in finding his timing this spring had a solid game, he went 2-for-2 with an RBI, his second of the spring. Junior Lake, Starlin Castro, and Jonathan Herrera all chipped in with one RBI each in the win.
Chalk it up to a rough afternoon after a busy weekend, the Cubs made a couple errors, and struggled at the plate throughout the loss today. Jon Lester struggled with his command on both sides of the plate today, and made too many mistakes in the middle of the zone. The result was a tough outing for Lester as he gave up six earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The Cubs as a team were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, at least they had twelve chances, right? Jorge Soler was 1-for-2 with a walk, and Kris Bryant was clearly fatigued as he could only manage a loud double off the wall in three at bats.