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Spring Training Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 7 Padres 3
WP – Jason Marquis (1-1) LP – Greg Maddux (1-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgLou Piniella’s offense has finally started putting runs on the board. Over the past 4 games the Cubs have tallied a total of 26 runs, the same amount they scored in the 7 games prior dating back to March 13th. On Sunday afternoon the Cubs batted around in the 1st inning against Greg Maddux and scored 6 times on 4 hits with a pair of walks and a Padres’ error. Eric Patterson and Alfonso Soriano each stole a base off Maddux and the big hits came from Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot. Ramirez drove in a pair with a bases loaded single to center while Theriot came through with a 2-out double that cleared bases. Jason Marquis added a 2-out RBI single to account for the 6th run in the opening inning.

Jason Marquis had a shaky start as well. He gave up a 3-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the 1st inning but then settled down and retired the last 11 batters he faced. Carmen Pignatiello threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Marquis. With the recent injury to Scott Eyre, Pignatiello’s performance this spring could land him on the 25-man roster to start the season. Kerry Wood gave up a hit with 2 strikeouts in his inning of work on 18 pitches, 13 for strikes, and Bobby Howry was perfect in the 9th with a strikeout. Lou Piniella’s pitching staff walked only 1 batter on Sunday.

Anytime the Cubs beat the Padres….it is a good day. Here is the rest from the game, an update on Scott Eyre, news from Arizona and could the Cubs be interested in Reed Johnson and Jeff DaVanon?

The Cubs lack of offense has been a concern over the past few weeks. Nothing seemed to be working and not for Lou Piniella’s lack of tinkering with the lineup. Minus the 3 runs the Cubs scored in Tucson on Friday with basically a b-team lineup, the offense has scored 23 runs in 3 games….that is the kind of output everyone was expecting to see when Spring Training began nearly a month ago.

Eric Patterson led off the game by reaching on a fielding error by Khalil Greene. Greene bobbled a ball that was hit into the hole at short. Patterson quickly stole 2nd with Maddux on the mound. Alfonso Soriano followed with a single to center, but Patterson was held at 3rd. Soriano stole 2nd with Lee at the plate, it was Soriano’s first stolen base of the spring. Derrek Lee worked a walk to load the bases for Aramis Ramirez.

The RBI Machine came through with a single to center to put the Cubs on the board. Both Patterson and Soriano scored, Lee held at 2nd base. Kosuke Fukudome walked to reload the bases. After an infield pop out by Micah Hoffpauir and a strikeout by Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot stepped to the plate.

Ryan Theriot took a 1-1 pitch from Maddux to the wall in right center. Theriot cleared the bases with 2 outs and ended up at 2nd with a double. Jason Marquis followed with a single to right that plated Theriot with the 6th run of the inning. Patterson flied out to right for the third out.

In typical Maddux fashion, he settled down after the 1st inning and retired the next 6 batters he faced. Ryan Theriot reached on a single off of Adrian Gonzalez’ glove at 1st base to start the 4th. Theriot stole 2nd (the third stolen base for the Cubs off of Maddux) and advanced to 3rd on a single by Jason Marquis. Eric Patterson then blooped a single into left center and Theriot scored what would end up being the Cubs last run of the day.

The Padres bullpen cooled off the Cubs offense for the final 4 innings of the game. The Cubs had a couple of runners on base on two different occasions but were unable to add to their lead.

Jason Marquis had another effective outing with help from plays by Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot. The noticeable difference in Marquis was his ability to rebound from the rough 1st inning. Last season a start like Marquis had on Sunday afternoon would have led to a very short outing….but he was able to move on and was very sharp over the last 3 1/3 innings he was on the mound.

Marquis ended up allowed 3 runs on 4 hits with 5 strikeout in 4 1/3 innings with no walks….the best stat of them all.

Carmen Pignatiello kept his scoreless innings streak alive. Pignatiello gave up only a hit with 2 strikeouts and no walks in 1 1/3 innings. Kerry Wood, Tim Lahey, Les Walrond and Bobby Howry gave up a total on 3 hits over the last 4 2/3 innings with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk.

The bats are starting to come alive as the team is beginning to take shape….

Lou Piniella’s crew improved to 11-14-1 in Cactus League play with 6 games left to play.

Box Score from Sunday’s Game

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to make the start against the Rangers on Monday at HoHoKam against Joaquin Benoit.

News from Arizona

Monday is an important day for Kerry Wood. After pitching back-to-back for the first time and in three of the last four games, his health on Monday morning will help make Lou Piniella’s decision, If everything is O.K., as expected, Wood will be named the Cubs closer….’Kloser K

Several reports from Arizona have indicated that Scott Eyre has experienced elbow soreness that could land him on the DL to start the season. Eyre apparently has been “experiencing tightness in his left elbow for a while” and finally told someone about it after his outing against the White Sox on Saturday. Piniella told the Tribune it is “too early to say Eyre would start the season on the DL.

Sean Marshall will not make his scheduled start on Thursday against the Brewers, instead he will pitch out of the pen this week according to a report on Cubs.com. With Eyre’s injury, the door is opened for another southpaw to possibly make the roster….if Eyre is unable to start the season on time. Tthe other candidates: Carmen Pignatiello and Les Walrond.

Mark DeRosa was sent home on Sunday with the flu.

Lou Piniella has “plans to announce” his rotation and closer on Monday according to a report in the Sun-Times.

From the Rumor Mill

According to reports in the Chicago Tribune and in the Chicago Sun-Times, both Reed Johnson and Jeff DaVanoncould draw the Cubs interest.” The Padres released DaVanon on Sunday and Johnson was released on Sunday by the Blue Jays.

Piniella told the Sun-Times, “picking up one of those players would be a good fit for a roster that otherwise doesn’t have a bona fide centerfield backup.

DaVanon is a switch hitting centerfielder and Johnson can play all three outfield spots.

Quote of the Day

"Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none." - William Shakespeare
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