A Split for the Squads

Spring Training Game Ten – Cubs (ss) 4 Diamondbacks 1
WP – Jon Lieber (1-0) LP – Micah Owings (0-1) Save – Jose Ascanio (1)

Spring Training Game Eleven – Cubs (ss) 6 A’s (ss) 7
WP – Troy Cate (1-0) LP – Shingo Takatsu (0-1, BS 2) Save – None

wflag.jpgJon Lieber was very effective and efficient in his second spring tune-up. The veteran right hander was scheduled to pitch only 3 innings but ended up throwing 4 innings of shutout ball. Lieber did not walk a batter, struck out 4 and gave up only 2 hits, both to Augie Ojeda. The Cubs offense scored all 4 of their runs in the 2nd inning and chased Diamondbacks’ starter Micah Owings from the game. Aramis Ramirez recorded his first hit and RBI of the spring and Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI in his return.

Sean Marshall did not allow a run in his first 3 innings but surrendered 2 in the 4th before giving way to Rocky Roquet. Jeff Samardzija gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in an inning of work. Shingo Takatsu could not find the strike zone in the 9th. He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits, a hit batsman and a walk for his second blown save of the spring. Daryle Ward hit his second home run in as many days, Josh Kroeger was 3-for-5 with 2 RBI’s and Matt Murton broke a 4-4 tie in the 7th with a run scoring double.

Game 10 – Cubs vs. Diamondbacks

The name of the game on Saturday at HoHoKam was pitching. Jon Lieber was very impressive on the mound. He threw the ball extremely well and displayed very good command. He threw only 9 pitches, 7 for strikes, in the 1st inning; 9 in the 2nd, 5 for strikes, worked very quickly in the 3rd and threw 14, 8 for strikes, in the 4th. If Lieber can give Lou Piniella similar outings during the regular season, he is going to put up very good numbers throughout the year.

Sean Gallagher without question had his best outing of the spring. Gallagher, like Lieber, was very effective….and most importantly threw strikes. Gallagher did not allow a run in 2 innings while striking out 2 and walking 1. He threw 23 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the 5th inning and threw only 11 in the 6th, 7 for strikes. Solid defensive plays by Josh Lansford and Derrek Lee helped keep Gallagher out of a prolonged inning.

Bobby Howry pitched the 7th inning and while his numbers look very promising (1 hit, 1 walk and no runs) he once again struggled with his command. Howry threw 16 pitches, 8 for strikes and was aided by a good play at 3rd by Josh Lansford that started a 5-4-3 double play.

On a quick side note…. Josh Lansford also added a solid single to left in the 7th, keep an eye on this prospect. The Cubs are high on him and he should have made a good impression on Lou Piniella.

What is going on the 8th inning? For the third straight day the Cubs bullpen allowed a run, both in Mesa and in Phoenix. Scott Eyre pitched the 8th at HoHoKam with mixed results. He appeared to throw the ball well but in between striking out 2, he gave up 3 hits and a run.

Jose Ascanio picked up his first save as a Cub. He gave up a hit in the 9th but was effective….the talk Larry Rothschild had with him earlier in the week must have worked.

Micah Owings recorded 2 outs on 3 pitches to start the game (Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome). It appeared like it was going to be one of those days where the Cubs offense just swung at everything early and often in the count….but that was not the case. Both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez worked a walk but Geovany Soto popped out to end the inning.

Mike Fontenot led off the 2nd with a single to left. Ronny Cedeno followed with a double down the left field line. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Felix Pie singled to right, both runs scored. Pie advanced to 2nd on a passed ball with Jon Lieber at the plate. Lieber sacrificed Pie to 3rd on the next pitch….a perfect bunt. Alfonso Soriano followed with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. Kosuke Fukudome walked but Derrek Lee struck out swinging for the second out. Aramis Ramirez stepped in and delivered his first hit and RBI of the spring….a single to right. Fukudome advanced to 3rd and Micah Owings made an early exit. Geovany Soto struck out looking to end the inning.

The Cubs offense was pretty quiet after the 2nd inning. Soriano had an infield single, Derrek Lee flied out to the warning track in right and Fukudome added a single in the 7th but it was erased on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out with Lee at the plate.

Box Score from Saturday’s Game at HoHoKam

Game 11 – Cubs vs. A’s

Daryle Ward was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and 2 runs scored in the Cubs loss to the A’s. Alan Trammell was the field boss with Piniella in Mesa with the rest of the team. The Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning thanks to back-to-back-back doubles by Ward, Jake Fox and Josh Kroeger. The Cubs 4th run came in the 3rd on a solo home run by Ward.

Matt Murton and Josh Kroeger added doubles in the 7th that broke a 4-4 tie. The Cubs offense pounded out 14 hits against A’s pitching.

Sean Marshall’s outing did not finish like it started. Marshall cruised through the first 3 innings but could only record 1-out in the 4th. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits with 2 wild pitches in 3 1/3 innings with 2 strikeouts and no walks. Rocky Roquet threw 1 pitch and was able to get Kurt Suzuki to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

Juan Mateo gave up 2 hits and a run in his 2 innings of relief with a walk….his first run allowed of the spring.

Box Score from Saturday’s Game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium

The Cubs travel to Surprise on Sunday to face the Kansas City Royals. Ryan Dempster is scheduled to make his third start against Brett Tomko.

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