Game Fourteen: Cubs 7 Angels 6
Updated: 7:54pm C.S.T.
Updated: 9:30pm C.S.T. – Final in the WBC – Team USA Lost to Team Mexico, 2-1. Team USA is eliminated from the World Baseball Classic - Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett are heading back to Mesa.
The Cubs did something very rare over the past two seasons on Thursday in Tempe and that will not show in any box score you read….they had a two-out rally….and Jacque Jones got it started. Jones’ day will read 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, but it was his single with 2 outs that got the Cubs offense jumped started and by the time they were finished they had scored 4 runs.
Two out rallies and Chicago Cubs baseball have not been mentioned that often in the same sentence and other than the bullpen’s performance, that was the most impressive part of Thursday game. After Pierre and Hairston started the game with outs, Jacque Jones showed patience at the plate and started the inning with a single. Jones advanced on a wild pitch by Jeff Weaver and scored on a single by Aramis Ramirez. Todd Walker doubled home Ramirez, Murton doubled home Walker and Murton ended the scoring with a single by Ronny Cedeno….again all with 2 outs. Jake Fox added an RBI triple and Walker, Murton and Jones all had 2 hits apiece. Ronny Cedeno was used in the DH role on Thursday and Neifi started at short. Dusty is reportedly going to stop using the designated hitter sometime this week. The Cubs pounded out 12 hits on the day.
Rich Hill had another bad outing. Hill seems to be throwing strikes with his curve ball, but missing with his fastball and changeup. Hill gave up 5 runs, all earned, on 5 hits in 2 innings. He also allowed 3 stolen bases and one was a double steal. Off of a lefty? Hill is not fooling anyone on the mound, a fact the Angel announcers brought up. Hill’s ERA is at 13.50 for the spring. Granted it is Spring Training, but that ERA is out of control. Hill has confidence in his curve, and even struck out Vladimir Guerrero, but he needs to trust his other stuff and have the same confidence on his fastball….the pitch that got Guerrero swinging. Hill walked two and hit a batter as well.
The bullpen performed better and kept the Cubs in the ballgame. Todd Wellemeyer threw 2 scoreless innings and gave up only 2 hits. Wellemeyer sounded like he pitched his best game of the spring….if only the game would have been on TV. Wellemeyer has the stuff, but all spring long he has not been hitting his spots….was Thursday any different? Scott Eyre gave up only one hit; he faced four batters and has yet to allow a run this spring.
Michael Wuertz apparently benefited from the Cubs day off on Wednesday. Wuertz settled down and held the Angels scoreless in an inning of work, giving up only one hit. Wuertz was being more efficient on Thursday, getting ahead of hitters and throwing strikes. Wuertz was credited with the win. Scott Williamson shut down the Angels in order in the 9th inning for the save.
Friday – The San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, 2:05pm C.S.T.
Greg Maddux vs. Noah Lowry
Maddux could and should be throwing to Henry Blanco on Friday. The Cubs backup catcher rejoined the Cubs on Thursday. Although Soto, Fox, Anderson and Reyes have done a fine job, it will be good to see how the pitching staff improves once a proven Major League receiver is behind the plate.
Carlos Zambrano also rejoined the Cubs on Thursday and here is a good quote from Dusty Baker:
“You would think over the course of a winter — actually three winters, two winters — that guys would come back strong and healthy, which hasn’t been the case,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “Woody had a little setback with his knee, but his arm is doing well. He’s throwing the ball great. Hopefully, Woody will be ready soon. How soon we don’t know. We have Wade Miller coming on pretty strong. We just have to pull our belts a little tighter and do what we have to do.”
Well that’s the news….and I’m sticking to it!!