Spring Training Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs 7 Rangers 6
WP – Les Walrond (2-1) LP – Robinson Tejada (0-1) Save – None
The Cubs’ offense continued putting runs on the board on Monday afternoon at HoHoKam Park and were able to out slug the Texas Rangers. Two of the players that have received a fair amount of press in the last few weeks were responsible for 5 of the Cubs’ 7 runs….Mark DeRosa and Felix Pie. DeRosa hit his first home run of the spring, a 3-run shot in the 1st that gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Pie was not only solid in the field but was perfect at the plate, 3-for-3, and he scored the winning run after reaching on a 2-out triple in the 9th inning. Eric Patterson drove in Pie with a single to center off of Robinson Tejada.
Ryan Dempster responded to being named as the Cubs number three starter….with a not-so-good performance. Dempster allowed 4 runs on 8 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Carlos Marmol pitched for the first time since last Wednesday and proved how valuable he is in the middle innings. Marmol struck out the only batter he faced to end the 5th inning after Dempster had walked the bases loaded with 2 outs. Jon Lieber retired the Rangers in order in his first two innings out of the pen before giving up 2 runs in the 8th on 1 hit….a home run by Adam Melhuse. Lieber struck out 3 of the first 5 batters he faced. Les Walrond picked up the win after a tossing a scoreless 9th inning. One would like to think the Cubs’ offense production over the past few games might carry over to next Monday when the games actually count. The Cubs, as a team, are swinging the bats much better lately and need a hot start to the season….no matter what the temperature is outside. With the way the starting rotation is constructed, there will be days the Cubs will have to outscore their opponent….and seeing contributions from different players over the past few days is a good sign.
An unfounded report in the Denver Post over the weekend indicated the Cubs had “clearly soured on Felix Pie” and while nothing appears further from the truth (reports from the mainstream media in Chicago have not mentioned the Cubs are unhappy with Pie, they are just looking for a right handed option to platoon with him in center….not instead of him). While Felix Pie may or may not have seen the blurb, he sure made a nice statement with his bat on Monday….3-for-3 with a double, a triple, a sacrifice bunt and 2 runs scored.
Alfonso Soriano scored the Cubs’ first run of the day after reaching on a 1-out walk in the 1st inning. Derrek Lee followed with a single to center and both advanced 90′ on a wild pickoff attempt at 2nd base by Kason Gabbard. Aramis Ramirez grounded out to 3rd and Soriano scored on the play. Matt Murton reached on an infield single and Lee advanced to 3rd. Mark DeRosa followed with his 3-run shot to left.
Felix Pie led off the 5th with a double down the right field line. Casey McGehee grounded out to 2nd but Pie advanced to 3rd on the play….a good job by McGehee and a productive out. Ronny Cedeno followed with a single to center that gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Cedeno stole 2nd with Soriano at the plate and advanced to 3rd on a wild throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchia (the error was charged to Ramon Vazquez). Cedeno then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Soriano.
With the game tied at 6 with 2 outs in the 9th, Felix Pie came through with a triple down the right field line. Eric Patterson then singled up the middle to score Pie with the game winner.
The offensive contributions Lou Piniella received on Monday afternoon was more than welcomed. It was a total team effort….with two standouts.
The Cubs exhibition season record improved to 12-14-1 with the win on Monday….only 5 games left. Opening Day is less than a week away….Cubs Fever – Catch It!
The Cubs travel to Scottsdale on Tuesday afternoon to face the Giants for the last time in Cactus League action. Rich Hill is slated to make the start against Jonathan Sanchez. Tuesday is the Giants last game of the spring in Arizona.