Spring Training Game Three – Cubs 5 A’s 5 – 10 innings
While the game was not listed as a split squad contest, it might as well have been for the Cubs. Most of the Cubs’ marquee names were absent from Phoenix Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Wade Miller made his spring debut against the A’s and threw the ball well in his 2 innings of work. Jeff Samardzija made his Cub debut and a much lighter Ryan Dempster was effective but reminiscent of his past outings.
Michael Barrett stole a base and hit an in-the-park home run, Ronny Cedeno went deep and Ryan Theriot’s triple should have been the first in-the-park home run of the day. The Cubs played with their backups but had a solid game from a fundamental standpoint, until late in the game when they could not find the strike zone. The game ended in a tie and it was a mutual agreement between the teams, unlike last spring. Most of the A’s lineup featured their projected everyday players while the Cubs starting lineup included Jacque Jones at DH, Michael Barrett, Angel Pagan in right and Wade Miller on the mound.
Saturday’s starting lineup:
- Ryan Theriot – 2B
- Ronny Cedeno – SS
- Jacque Jones – DH
- Daryle Ward – 1B
- Michael Barrett – C
- Angel Pagan – RF
- Buck Coats – LF
- Tomas Perez – 3B
- Felix Pie – CF
With the game taking on a different feel with such names as Lee, Murton, Soriano, Ramirez and DeRosa absent from the lineup, Lou Piniella had his team use their speed and fundamentals to try to put up their first “W” of the spring. The Cubs were up by two going into the bottom of the 7th when Carlos Marmol took the hill. Marmol has a lot of talent but like last season, he had a bad inning and was unable, for the most part, to find the strike zone. The A’s tied the game and neither team could break the tie before the game ended after the 10th inning.
The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the 1st when Ronny Cedeno took the first offering from Dan Haren over the left field wall. After a Barrett double in the 2nd, the Cubs tried to squeeze him home but Tomas Perez was thrown out at 1st base. In the 4th Michael Barrett walked, stole 2nd and scored on a broken bat single to center by Buck Coats.
After Felix Pie struck out to start the 5th, Ryan Theriot tripled to the wall in right field. On any other occasion a triple by Theriot would be a good accomplishment but not on Saturday. Theriot should have had an in-the-park home run. Mike Quade held him at 3rd instead of sending him home. The ball had not reached the cut off man before Theriot was given the stop sign. He did score on a single by Jacque Jones but the conservative call by Quade, his third in as many days, is cause for concern. The Cubs have dealt with poor 3rd base coaches in recent years, there have been too many possible runs cut down at home plate but Lou Piniella and his staff must find a happy medium. Quade sending Theriot on that occasion was less risky than Barrett getting the green light an inning later.
Michael Barrett did lead off the 6th with a monster shot to center that was misplayed and he motored around the bases and scored on a rather close throw. Barrett was elated, as well as the crowd….how many times are baseball fans treated to an in-the-park home run, much less by a catcher. After Barrett’s “trot” around the bases, Angel Pagan walked, stole 2nd was moved to 3rd by a very good sacrifice bunt by Buck Coats and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tomas Perez.
The Cubs had four base runners in the last 3 frames….3 walks and an excellent bunt by Ronny Cedeno but they could not plate any of those runners.
When the lineup was announced, the focus of the day quickly became the pitching staff with Wade Miller, Ryan Dempster and Jeff Samardzija scheduled to pitch. Miller started the game and threw rather well. He had a 9 pitch first inning (7 strikes and 2 balls) with a strikeout and two groundouts and threw a nice changeup to strikeout Jason Kendall. The 2nd inning was a little more difficult for Miller. He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes and 5 balls), struck out 1 and gave up a run on 2 hits. Mike Piazza hit a long single off of the left field wall thanks to a good relay by Buck Coats. Miller hit his spots and threw strikes but most importantly he was on the mound.
Ryan Dempster stepped to the mound in the 3rd inning and despite facing the minimum, his outing was very “Dempster-like”. He threw 10 pitches (6 strikes and 4 balls), the first two batters he faced both received balls to start their at bats and he eventually walked Shannon Stewart. Dempster did induce and inning ending double play (1-6-3) but to say he was sporadic would be very accurate.
Ryan O’Malley threw the 4th and 5th innings and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 1. O’Malley threw strikes but was hit hard in the 4th and seemed to settle down in the 5th and kept the A’s off the board.
The 6th inning featured the much-anticipated Cub debut of Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija threw the ball well and with confidence. It took Samardzija just 8 pitches to retire the A’s in order (5 strikes and 3 balls). Eric Chavez greeted Samardzija by sending his first pitch to deep center that ended up in Felix Pie’s glove. After that he settled down and recorded two groundouts to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol could not find the strike zone. He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits, walked 1, struck out 1 and hit a batter. He even received a visit to the mound from Lou Piniella. After Marmol recorded the last out of the inning, the Cubs lost their lead and Piniella his cool. Piniella became animated about the fact he was not throwing strikes. Piniella has stated several times recently that his pitchers will throw strikes and while the starters have, the guys coming in from the pen have not.
Carmen Pignatiello, Rocky Cherry and Les Walrond each pitched an inning to finish the game with similar results as their previous outings.
The Cubs stole 5 bases on Saturday….two from Pie and one each from Pagan, Jones and Barrett. Pie and Pagan did a fine job on the base paths and Barrett’s stolen base could have been a missed signal. Pagan has quietly put together two very solid games both in the field and at the plate.
While the game ended in a tie, the game was not the focus….the pitching staff was, but it ended up that Michael Barrett had a day he will never forget.
Box Score from MLB.com Attendance was 10,074 and the crowd was mostly blue instead of green.
Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday against Jon Garland and the White Sox at HoHoKam. The starters for the Cubs have pitched well the first time through the rotation. Marquis and Miller were effective and Zambrano was dominating. Rich Hill should be next on the list. The buzz on Saturday was about Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, along with Ted Lilly, pitching in Peoria on Monday against the Mariners. The offense has been rusty but isn’t it pitching that wins championships?