Breaking Even

Spring Training Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 7 Angels 5
WP – Carlos Marmol (2-0) LP – Francisco Rodriguez (0-1) Save – Carmen Pignatiello (2)

wflag.jpg Jered Weaver held Lou Piniella’s offense in check for the first 5 innings of Wednesday’s game, at one point retiring 11 in a row and 12 of the first 13. The Cubs finally broke through with a run in the 6th off of Weaver before batting around and scoring 5 runs in the 7th off of one of the best closers in the game….Francisco Rodriguez. The big hit was a bases loaded 2-out single by Ronny Cedeno that gave the Cubs the lead.

Felix Pie had a great day at the plate. He was 3-for-5 with 2 runs scored, a RBI and 2 stolen bases. Mike Fontenot was 2-for-4 with a run scored and started the rally in the 7th with a double. Kosuke Fukudome reached base two more times on Wednesday. He finished the day with a 1-for-3 performance that included a walk, a double and a sacrifice fly in the 9th that plated Kyle Reynolds….and one tremendous throw from right field in the 2nd inning.

Carlos Zambrano struggled in his last tune-up of the spring. An error by Ryan Theriot did not help any but Big Z gave up 4 runs on 4 hits with a walk, a hit batsman and 5 strikeouts in 4 innings.

Carlos Zambrano did not display the same command on Wednesday as he had throughout the spring. He fell behind several batters and could not throw his out pitch when he needed it. For as well as he’s pitched all spring, everyone is entitled to a so-so outing….and that is a good description of Zambrano’s game on Wednesday.

The biggest blow for the Angels against Zambrano was a 3-run home run by Dee Brown in the 2nd inning. Zambrano hit Kendry Morales to start the inning and then gave up a single to Robb Quinlan….that would have been a double in the past.

Quinlan hit a bloop to right field that tailed toward the line while in the air. Kosuke Fukudome took a perfect route to the ball and threw a perfect strike to Ryan Theriot to cut down Quinlan at 2nd. The ball beat Quinlan to the bag and all Theriot had to do was catch the ball…. quick side note, find this highlight, it was a textbook play by a Gold Glove outfielder.

With Morales on 3rd, Zambrano walked Jeff Mathis. Zambrano struck out Brandon Wood and quickly got ahead of Dee Brown, 1-2….Z’s next pitch was hit over the left field wall. It was just a mistake. Zambrano is going to give up home runs. The problem was the 2 free base runners ahead of the round tripper.

Bobby Howry gave up a 2-out bunt single in the 5th and was pretty sharp. Carlos Marmol struggled with his command as well. He gave up a run on a hit with 2 walks and a hit batsman in 1 1/3 innings. Kerry Wood on the other hand….was just plain dominating. In his longest outing of the spring, 1 2/3 innings, he retired all 5 batters he faced with 2 strikeouts.

Carmen Pignatiello picked up his 2nd save in as many days with a perfect 9th inning.

The 7th inning was a lesson in small ball. Of the Cubs 13 hits on Wednesday, only 2 were for extra bases. Mike Fontenot led off the 7th with a double. Matt Murton walked after Geovany Soto struck out. Ryan Theriot singled to right, Fontenot scored and Murton advanced to 2nd. Felix Pie followed with a single to right, Murton scored. Then Alfonso Soriano came through with a single to left, Theriot scored and Pie stopped at 2nd. Daryle Ward struck out for the 2nd out.

Von Stertzbach took over for K-Rod and walked Kosuke Fukudome to load the bases. Ronny Cedeno then followed with a single to center….Pie and Soriano scored to give the Cubs the lead.

For the fourth day in a row the Cubs put 7 runs up on the board….all 4 wins.

Lou Piniella’s team reached the .500 mark in the exhibition season with the win on Wednesday. The Cubs are 14-14-1 with 1 game left in the desert and 2 over the weekend in Las Vegas.

Box Score from Wednesday’s Game

The Cubs conclude the Arizona part of the exhibition season on Thursday against the Brewers at HoHoKam Park. The game starts an hour earlier (2:05pm C.T.) and Lou Piniella will send a “bunch of minor league pitchers” to the mound against Steve Bray.

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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