A Split Decision

Spring Training Game Nine – Cubs (ss) 9 Rangers 11
WP – Bruce Chen (1-0) LP – Ben Howard (0-1)

Spring Training Game Ten – Cubs (ss) 10 Padres (ss) 6
WP – Rich Hill (1-1) LP – Jake Peavy (0-1)

The Cubs played split squad games on Friday afternoon and won the home game against the Padres and lost the road game against Sammy Sosa and the Texas Rangers.

wflag.jpg In Mesa….Aramis Ramirez had a breakout day against the Padres with a home run, a double and 4 RBI’s. Rich Hill threw very well and allowed just 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 3 in 3 innings of work to get the win against the Friars. The 4 runs the Cubs scored in the 3rd all came with 2 outs off of Jake Peavy.

In Surprise….Matt Murton, Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill homered in the losing effort. Neal Cotts gave up 4 unearned runs on 7 hits in 2 innings of work. The squads combined for 19 runs on 33 hits and 10 walks while the pitching staff gave up a combined 17 runs on 29 hits, walked 4 and struck out 14….“Play Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

Several of the Cubs minor league players saw playing time in both games on Friday. A few of the notables were Dylan Johnston, Sam Fuld and Josh Lansford. Johston was 0-1 with a run scored and Lansford was 1-2, both played against the Padres. Flud took over for Felix Pie against the Rangers and was 1-1. Jonathan Mota, Adalberto Mendez, Matt Camp and Cory Bailey also participated in the split squad games.

Cubs vs. Padres

“Play Like There’s No Tomorrow” is apparently Lou Piniella’s slogan for the year and one thing is for sure, the Cubs bats have come alive since Sweet Lou’s “little” speech. The Cubs pounded the ball against the Padres for the second day in a row. They batted around in the 4-run 3rd inning, sending 10 to the plate. They loaded the bases twice against Jake Peavy and finally broke through in the 3rd after Rich Hill had left the bases loaded in the 2nd.

After spotting the Padres a run in the 2nd, Michael Barrett continued swinging a hot bat and singled to right with 2 outs. Buck Coats (3-4 on the day) dropped a bloop single into right and Tomas Perez beat out an infield single to load the bases. Rich Hill struck out to end the inning. Alfonso Soriano was hitless on Friday but Cesar Izturis reached 3 of the 4 times he went to the plate (1-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored). Izturis walked and went to 3rd on a hit and run with Derrek Lee. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases and Jacque Jones popped out to the catcher in foul ground for the second out of the inning. Barrett came through with a 2-run single to chase Jake Peavy from the game and give the Cubs the lead for good. Coats singled to score Ramirez and Perez laid down a perfect bunt to score Barrett. Scott Moore pinch hit for Rich Hill and walked ahead of Soriano. With the bases loaded Soriano grounded out to short to end the inning.

In the 4th Izturis walked to lead off the inning and went to 3rd on a double to center by Derrek Lee that Mike Cameron lost in the sun. Aramis Ramirez doubled to plate both runners. The Cubs loaded the bases again in the 4th but were unable to score again in the inning. In the 5th, again with Izturis on, Aramis Ramirez hit his first home run of the spring over the left center field wall. The Cubs added 2 more in the 6th to complete their scoring on the day.

Rich Hill had a good outing and Piniella gave the southpaw the vote of confidence on Friday as well. Hill will likely be the 4th starter in the rotation once the season starts. Hill did not walk a batter and struck out 3 in his 3 innings of work. Hill made just a couple of mistakes and other than Kevin Kouzmanoff’s double, the Padres did not hit Hill hard all afternoon. Paul McAnulty singled home Kouzmanoff for the Padres only run off of Hill.

Bobby Howry bounced back with a perfect inning of work while Scott Eyre was not sharp again. Eyre gave up a run on 2 hits in an inning of work. Carlos Marmol was sporadic again. He did strike out the side but in between the k’s he gave up a run on 2 hits. Marmol struck out the first 2 batters he faced, allowed the home run to Kouzmanoff before ending the inning on a strike out.

Will Ohman was the beneficiary of a weird play to end the game. The final out was actually called by the umpire as a Padre runner attempting to break up a double play ran out of the baseline, so while the box score will show a double play….

Box Score from MLB.com

Cubs vs. Rangers

Sammy Sosa was 2-3 on the day (an infield single and a single to right) and played most of the game in right field against the team he once called his. The Cubs put up 5 runs off of former White Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy. The Cubs scored 5 runs on 7 hits in 2 innings of work and both Matt Murton and Koyie Hill went deep against the ex-south sider. Murton and former Ranger, Mark DeRosa were in the starting lineup with Ryan Theriot playing 3rd base for the first time this spring. Murton was 1-2 with 2 RBI’s, 2 walks and a run scored while DeRosa was 2-4 on the afternoon. Tyler Colvin started the game in right and was 3-5 with 2 runs scored, 2 RBI’s and his first home run in a Cubs’ uniform. Felix Pie was 1-4 and was caught trying to steal 2nd base and was also picked off 1st base.

Neal Cotts was the victim of 1 of the 3 Cubs’ errors on the day….so the 4 runs the Rangers scored were not charged to him. The 7 hits in 2 innings is very alarming and today’s outing by Cotts is the reason ERA in today’s game is very deceiving. Cotts WHIP this spring is 2.80 and he has given up 14 hits in 5 innings of work and teams are hitting .438 against him. Cotts has to step it up before the season starts or he will be taking Glendon Rusch’s place….both literally and figuratively.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs will stay in Surprise and face the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. Ted Lilly is scheduled to start the game with Mark Prior expected to pitch in relief.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney