Another Slow Start to the Spring

Spring Training Game Four – Cubs 6 Giants 8
WP – Jack Taschner (1-0) LP – Neal Cotts (0-1) Save – Julio Mateo (1)

Felix Pie hit his 2nd home run in 4 games and Andres Torres added a 2-run shot in the 7th inning but the Cubs dropped their third Cactus League game in a row on Sunday. Ted Lilly gave up a run on 2 hits with a walk and 2 strikeouts in his first tune-up of the spring. Lilly struggled with his command in the 1st inning but was able to escape early trouble without allowing a run. Lilly hit Kevin Frandsen to lead off the 2nd and he came around to score the only run Lilly allowed.

Neal Cotts and Jose Ascanio combined to allow 5 runs in the 5th inning. Cotts was tagged with the 5 runs, all earned. He gave up 3 hits and walked 3 in just 2/3 of an inning. Shingo Takatsu gave up a 2-run homer to Travis Denker in his inning of work. Jose Ceda, Juan Mateo, Kevin Hart and Carlos Marmol all threw the ball extremely well in their second appearances of the exhibition season.

The injury to Alfonso Soriano early on Sunday morning put a damper on an otherwise beautiful day at HoHoKam Park. The capacity crowd of 12,688 was surprised by Soriano’s late scratch after the lineup had already been announced. Several reports indicated Soriano fractured his finger and is expected to miss 3-5 days.

Eric Patterson moved to the leadoff spot. He and Felix Pie were the only two players to log a full 9 innings on Sunday. Patterson had a good day at the plate and broke up the Giants no-hitter with a bunt single in the 3rd inning with 2 outs. He finished the day 2-for-5 with a RBI. Felix Pie was 1-for-3 with a walk and his second home run of the spring. His solo shot to lead off the 5th landed in the Giants bullpen well beyond the wall in right field.

Alex Cintron continued to make an argument for a roster spot. He was 1-for-2 off the bench with a RBI and a run scored. Sam Fuld added his first hit of the spring in the 8th inning. Tyler Colvin struck out in his first appearance of the exhibition season.

On a quick side note…. Aramis Ramirez and Daryle Ward, who have been sidelined with injuries in the first 4 games, were on the field in pre-game workouts. Both players were in uniform and were joking around with their teammates.


Ted Lilly had his typical rough 1st inning. Lilly threw 16 pitches, 7 for strikes, and was not hitting his spots. An aggressive Giants offense allowed Lilly to get out of early trouble. After hitting Frandsen to start the 2nd inning, Lilly appeared to find a groove. He threw just 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, and he made the Giants work for the only run they scored. While a better outing would have been welcomed, all-in-all Sunday was a good start to Lilly’s 2008 campaign.

Juan Mateo pitched the 3rd inning and he could end up being a factor for the Cubs this season. For the second time this spring he did not allow a run. The only negative from Mateo was a 2-out walk he issued after being ahead in the count 1-2. Mateo threw 17 pitches, 12 were for strikes.

Jose Ceda took the mound in the 4th inning. Lester Strode worked with the very talented Ceda in the bullpen on his mechanics, mostly his release point, before he took the mound. Ceda’s outing was much improved from his debut on Thursday. After hitting Kevin Frandsen, he retired Frandsen on a fielder’s choice on a grounder up the middle by Fred Lewis. Geovany Soto then threw out Lewis trying to steal 2nd. Ceda threw 13 pitches, 9 for strikes.

The 5th inning was all about Neal Cotts. Cotts, who is reportedly competing for a spot in the bullpen, had his second bad outing in as many games. Cotts could not find the strike zone and when he did the Giants pounced on his offerings. Cotts gave way to Jose Ascanio with 2 outs and Ascanio allowed 2 inherited runners to score; all were credited to Cotts. Ascanio pitched the 6th and looked much more comfortable starting the inning then coming in with runners on base….good and bad, depending on your point of view.

Shingo Takatsu gave up 2 more runs in the 7th inning that ended up being the difference in the game. With all due respect to Mr. Takatsu, but ‘Mr. Zero‘ has zero velocity on his fastball.

2008Hart1-pub.jpgKevin Hart was impressive for the second time this spring. After retiring all 3 batters he faced on Thursday, Hart sat down 3 of the 4 he faced on Sunday….Sam Fuld could not make a play on a fly ball to left that would have ended the inning. Hart’s performance stuck out from the previous 3 pitchers that had taken the mound.

Carlos Marmol was just plain nasty again….he retired all 3 batters he faced in the 9th inning. Six up, six down for Marmol this spring.

Monday is another day….

Jon Lieber is slated to make his first start of the spring on Monday against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria. Sean Marshall is also expected to take the mound against Piniella’s former team.

Steve Stone and Ron Santo

More CCO Video on YouTube

Carlos Marmol Warming up in the Bullpen

Click Here for a Photo Gallery from Game Four of the Cubs’ 2008 Cactus League Schedule

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