The Kids are Alright

Spring Training Game Eight – Cubs 8 Padres 6
WP – Jason Anderson (1-0) LP – Trevor Hoffman (0-1) Save – Rocky Cherry (2)

wflag.jpg Daryle Ward powered the Cubs to the victory on Thursday afternoon against Greg Maddux, Todd Walker and the San Diego Padres. The Padres played a sloppy game committing four errors while the Cubs continued hitting the ball all over the field. The Cubs pounded out 14 hits and in the past two days they have tallied 32. Buck Coats continued his impressive spring with a 3-hit day and a stolen base while Felix Pie, Carmen Pignatiello and Rocky Cherry continued to impress as well.

Wade Miller had a decent outing and Kerry Wood threw the ball well despite his bloated line on the day.

Wade Miller threw 3 innings, gave up 6 hits, walked 2, struck out 2 and allowed just a run on the afternoon. Miller did throw a lot of pitches and pitched behind in the count most of the afternoon. Miller had a sharp breaking ball and was helped in the 1st inning by two base running errors by Terrmel Sledge and Todd Walker. Henry Blanco threw out Sledge attempting to steal 2nd and Walker was caught in a run down after losing track of a ball in the dirt. In the 2nd inning Miller gave up a home run to right, on a hanging curve, to Geoff Blum. The Padres hit the ball hard in the 2nd inning. Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled off the base of the center field wall after the Blum home run but was thrown out at the plate by Felix Pie when he tried to score on a single to center by Oscar Robles. In Miller’s last inning of work he gave up a leadoff single to Luke Carlin but was able to induce a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Terrmel Sledge.

Kerry Wood pitched the 4th inning and allowed 4 runs on 2 hits, struck out 3 and hit a batter, Kevin Kouzmanoff. All four runs came courtesy of a grand slam off the bat of Terrmel Sledge. Wood should have been out of the inning before the home run. After a leadoff single, he hit Kouzmanoff, struck out the next hitter and Robles flied out to Matt Murton in left. With 2 outs he actually struck out Pete Laforest but the third strike was not handled by Henry Blanco and was scored as a wild pitch….LaForest reached to load the bases for Sledge’s grand slam. Wood did strikeout his former teammate, Todd Walker, to end the inning.

Jason Anderson, the former Padres farmhand, had his best outing of the spring and did not allow a run in 2 innings of work while striking out 3. Anderson was aided by Henry Blanco….‘Hank White’ threw out Paul McAnulty after a delayed steal attempt. Carmen Pignatiello retired all 3 batters he faced, one via the strike out and the other two outs were on the ground. The lefty continues to be very impressive out of the pen and should give the Cubs depth from Iowa if they need help in the relief corps. In four innings of work he has not allowed a hit or a run, struck out 1 and walked 2. He was very sharp on the mound and was able to retire the minimum with little effort. And the same can be said about Rocky Cherry….Cherry pitched a 1-2-3 9th for his 2nd save of the spring.

Felix Pie is determined to make Lou Piniella’s decision hard. Pie had a very impressive day in the field that included throwing out a runner attempting to score on a single to center. Pie added 2 more hits and 2 RBI’s and so far this spring he his hitting .421 with a .450 OBP. Pie showed good range and tracked down several balls hit in his direction. Buck Coats could be this year’s Angel Pagan. Coats has been very impressive in the field and was 3-5 with 2 runs scored on Thursday. He his hitting .438 with a .471 OBP.

The Cubs scored 2 runs off of Greg Maddux in the 2nd inning. Coats singled to left with 1-out and advanced to 2nd on a missed throw on a pick-off attempt. Coats scored on a single to center by Cesar Izturis. Izturis scored on a single to right by Felix Pie after Wade Miller had singled. Izturis had 2 more hits on the aftertoon. In the 4th Coats started the scoring again with a double to left center. Henry Blanco recorded an infield single off the glove of Kouzmanoff. Izturis flied out to right to advance Coats to 3rd. Brian Dopirak pinch hit for Wade Miller and after a wild pitch from Eric Burke scored Coats, he doubled home Blanco. Pie reached on a mix-up in the infield to score Dopirak.

The Cubs took the lead for good in the 7th when Daryle Ward hit a “no-doubter” over the right centerfield wall off of Trevor Hoffman.

Former WGN Radio play-by-play man, Andy Masur called the game with Jerry Coleman. It was strange to hear Masur not calling the game for the Cubs. Coleman had trouble with many of the Cubs’ players names and it was very reminiscent of Harry Caray. Ronnie Woo Woo was in attendance and Andy Masur had to explain to Jerry Coleman who he is. To quote Masur: “Ronnie is a piece of work. He is the closest thing to a mascot the Cubs have.” Masur did a fine job.

The Cubs played a good game even without many of the regulars in the lineup. Miller and Wood’s two outings have to be taken as a plus regardless of the outcome. Pignatiello and Cherry are two names the Faithful should not forget, plus if Coats and Pie continue to impress they will make the decision on Piniella and his staff a very tough one.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs play two games on Friday….one against Sammy Sosa and the Rangers in Surprise and the other against the Padres split squad in Mesa. Rich Hill is scheduled to start against the Padres and Neal Cotts is scheduled to face the Rangers.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball is all I ever wanted. I could eat, sleep, and dream baseball." - Smoky Joe Wood

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