A Regular Season Preview

Spring Training Game Six – Cubs 6 Brewers 10 – 10 innings
WP – Steve Bray (1-0, BS 1) LP – Jose Ascanio (0-1) Save – None

Somebody forgot to tell Lou Piniella and Ned Yost this is just the exhibition season. While Piniella ran out a starting lineup with only four of his projected starters, he did pinch run for J.D. Closser in the 9th inning. Ned Yost on the other hand ran out a lineup missing only three starters from his regular season lineup and played them a majority of the game….plus he unintentionally, intentionally walked Derrek Lee in the 6th inning. Most figure the Cubs and Brewers to battle it out all season for the NL Central crown and if Tuesday’s back and forth Spring Training game is any indication, it should be a wild year.

Kosuke Fukudome had his best game of the spring hitting out of the second spot in the lineup. Fukudome was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, with his first home run and a 2-out RBI single in the 4th. Kerry Wood pitched a quick 6th inning and retired the Brewers in order. But Jose Ascanio gave up 4 runs in the 10th inning and the Cubs dropped the first contest against the Brewers of 2008.

Kosuke Fukudome had a very impressive day at the plate. Granted it is Spring Training, but both his home run and RBI single down the 3rd base line in the 4th came with a 2-strike count….plus his base knock in the 4th came off of southpaw, Chris Narveson. Lou Piniella might have found the right spot for Fukudome to hit in the lineup.

Ryan Dempster made his second start of the spring and after hitting Ryan Braun and walking in a run in the 1st inning he settled down. Dempster worked around a lead off triple by Tony Gwynn, Jr. in the 2nd and retired the Brewers in order in the 3rd. Dempster allowed a run on 2 hits with 2 walks and a strikeout in 3 innings.

Sean Gallagher did not have a good outing. He gave up 3 runs on 3 hits in his 2 innings of work. The big blow was a 2-run home run by Tony Gwynn, Jr. in the 4th inning after the Cubs had taken the lead in the bottom of the 3rd. Gallagher then allowed a solo home run to Mike Cameron in the 4th. All three hits Gallagher allowed were of the extra base variety….a double and 2 home runs.

As mentioned, Kerry Wood had a non-eventful 6th inning….very quick and very efficient. Chad Fox made his first appearance of the spring (also his first on a mound since April of 2005), leaving Michael Wuertz as the only Cubs’ pitcher to yet appear in the exhibition season. Fox gave up 2 runs, both earned, on 3 hits with a walk in an inning of work. Back-to-back singles by J.J. Hardy and Ryan Braun accounted for both runs

Carmen Pignatiello took another step at joining Scott Eyre in the bullpen on Opening Day. He allowed a hit in the 8th but a double play erased his only mistake….the southpaw faced the minimum in his inning of relief.

Kevin Hart continued his impressive spring. Hart gave up his first clean hit to Gabe Kapler and threw a wild pitch but struck out the side in the 9th inning. Jose Ascanio on the other hand struggled once again.

After a shaky outing on Sunday, Ascanio gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in the 10th inning. Gabe Gross hit a solo home run and Gabe Kapler added a bases clearing double after Ascanio walked Mike Rivera to load the bases.

Geovany Soto added another hit to his spring resume. A 2-run double in the 3rd….Soto is hitting .400 in the first 6 games. Alex Cintron continued to make his argument for a roster spot. He hit his 3rd double in the 6th but struck out in the 9th with the winning run on 3rd base. Felix Pie reached on a 2-out bunt single and scored on Fukudome’s single in the 4th. Pie finished the day 1-for-3 with a run scored out of the leadoff spot. Welington Castillo recorded his first hit of the spring on Tuesday….a 2-out single in the 10th to load the bases. Also, Mike Fontenot started the game at shortstop and was replaced later in the game by Ryan Theriot.

The Brewers defense allowed the Cubs to comeback in the 9th as they committed 3 errors on the day….including a wild throw from Ryan Braun from left field in the 4th inning.

Box Score from Tuesday’s Game

The Cubs and Carlos Zambrano will face the Diamondbacks in Tucson on Wednesday. Rich Hill is also scheduled to pitch. Bob Melvin will send newly acquired Juan Gutierrez to the hill.

Other News from Arizona

According to a report on Cubs.com, Michael Wuertz has not pitched yet this spring in order to give him “more time to build up arm strength.” Hmmm….something else to keep an eye on.

Aramis Ramirez and Daryle Ward are expected in the lineup for the first time this spring on Thursday.

According to a report in the Sun-Times, Lou Piniella started Mike Fontenot at shortstop on Tuesday in order to find a way to keep his offense on the team. Apparently Piniella “likes Fontenot’s bat and wants to give him a chance to make the club.

The Cubs worked on their base running skills on Tuesday and it paid off in the game against the Brewers. Felix Pie advanced to 2nd on a ball in the dirt and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s single to left.

Piniella is concerned about the lack of depth on his team according to a report in the Daily Herald.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt