Not a Good Day for the Back-end

Spring Training Game Twenty-One – Cubs (ss) 2 A’s (ss) 5
WP – Andrew Brown (1-0) LP – Kevin Hart (1-1, BS – 1) Save – Fernando Hernandez (1)

To say Lou Piniella’s bullpen had a rough afternoon at HoHoKam Park would be an understatement. A day after Piniella proclaimed that Kerry Wood was the front-runner to land the closer’s job, Wood was scratched from his scheduled outing on Wednesday with lower back spasms. Wood is expected back on the mound at some point over the weekend according to several reports, but a report on Cubs.com mentioned Wood could pitch on Thursday.

Ryan Dempster’s great outing was wasted by the bullpen. Dempster threw 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball, gave up only 1 hit, struck out 7 and walked 2 but Kevin Hart and Carlos Marmol could not hold the lead. Hart walked 2, gave up a couple of hits and was charged with 4 runs in a third of an inning. Marmol did not fair much better. He allowed 3 inherited runners to score, walked a pair and gave up a run on 2 hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Derrek Lee hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the 7th. Kosuke Fukudome threw out Kurt Suzuki at the plate in the 6th inning. Besides the Cubs offense struggling against Joe Blanton, Lou Piniella’s staff walked 9 batters on Wednesday afternoon.

Ryan Dempster recovered from his last outing on Friday against the Angels with a solid start against an A’s split squad….and he was the least of the Cubs’ problems on Wednesday. Michael Wuertz and Les Walrond did their job but Sean Gallagher, Kevin Hart and Carlos Marmol walked 7 batters over the last 3 innings of the game.

Kevin Hart gave up a lead off double to Danny Putnam in the 8th inning. Justin Knoedler followed with a single to right. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Sean Doolittle hit a grounder to Derrek Lee, he threw home and Putnam was eventually tagged out. Hart walked Chad Pennington to load the bases with 1-out.

Hart walked Eduardo Cornejo to force in a run. Carlos Marmol took over for Hart with the bases loaded and just 1-out. Marmol walked Archie Gilbert to force in the tying run. Corey Brown followed with a single to right that gave the A’s a 3-2 lead. Brooks Conrad hit a grounder to Derrek Lee, he threw to Ryan Theriot but Cornejo scored from the 3rd with the A’s 4th run of the inning.

While the win-loss record in spring training does not matter, walking 9 batters in 9 innings does….

The Cubs’ Spring Training record stands at 8-13 with one more left to play on Wednesday night.

Box Score from Wednesday’s Split Squad game against the A’s

The Cubs and Jon Lieber start the second game of the day-night doubleheader in Scottsdale against the Giants at 9:00pm C.T. There will be a full recap of the Cubs-Giants game with the news of the day from Arizona.

Quote of the Day

"It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not." - James Gordon
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