In the Right Direction?

Spring Training Game Nine – Cubs 6 Mariners 4
WP – Les Walrond (1-1) LP – Carlos Silva (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)

wflag.jpgFor the second time in less than a week, the Cubs beat the Mariners in Cactus League action. Ted Lilly had a shaky start in his second outing of the spring. He walked Ichiro Suzuki on 4 pitches to start the game and then gave up a 2-run homer to Yuniesky Betancourt. Lilly settled down and retired the last 9 batters he faced with 4 strikeouts. The Cubs bullpen had a better afternoon. Kevin Hart struggled a little in the 8th and gave up 2 runs before leaving the game after being hit on the leg by a comebacker to the mound. Carlos Marmol was effective in the 9th and recorded his first save of the spring.

Daryle Ward hit a 2-run pinch-hit home run in the 4th that ended Carlos Silva’s outing. The Cubs scored all 6 of their runs off of Silva in 3 1/3 innings. Kosuke Fukudome walked, scored a run and added a hustle-double to left in the 3rd in 4 trips to the plate. Fukudome is hitting .333 this spring with a .545 OBP. Aramis Ramirez made his first appearance of the exhibition season and while he was 0-for-2 with a walk his presence was felt. Ramirez made a fine catch on a ball in foul territory in the 1st inning.

The starting nine Lou Piniella ran out at HoHoKam on Friday is a lineup he could possibly use once the season starts. The Cubs offensive responded to the Mariners’ 2-run 1st inning by tying the game in the bottom half. Ryan Theriot led off with a single to right, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch with Kosuke Fukudome at the plate. Fukudome walked. Derrek Lee hit a double to right over Brad Wilkerson’s head. Theriot scored and Fukudome ended up at 3rd. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases with no outs. Matt Murton grounded into a 6-4-3 double play but Fukudome scored to tie the game.

Aramis Ramirez was the only starter not to record a hit. Matt Murton had another good day, despite grounding into a double play in the 1st inning. Murton was 2-for-4 with a run scored and he started the 4-run 4th inning with a single to center. Mike Fontenot followed with a single to right. With Murton on 3rd, Henry Blanco singled to right, Murton scored and Fontenot ended up at 3rd. Felix Pie (1-for-3 with a walk, run scored and a RBI) pulled a ball to the right side, Murton scored and Pie reached on the fielder’s choice. Daryle Ward pinch hit for Les Walrond and hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right.

The Cubs’ offensive struggled against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and managed just 2 hits over the last 4 1/3 innings of the game.

Ted Lilly’s outing did not start off on a positive note….to say the least. After a 4-pitch walk to Ichiro to start the game, he quickly fell behind Yuniesky Betancourt, 2-0, before receiving a visit from Henry Blanco. Betancourt then launched a 3-1 offering from Lilly over the left field wall. Lilly then settled down and quickly got ahead of Raul Ibanez, 0-2, but Aramis Ramirez changed the course of the inning. As mentioned, Ramirez made a fine play on the ball in foul territory for the first out of the inning….after that Lilly went into cruise control and struck out 4 of the last 8 batters he faced. And the Mariners’ lineup was chocked full of the projected Opening Day lineup. Lilly allowed 2 runs on 1 hit with a walk in 3 innings.

The last out Lilly recorded was a swinging strikeout of Yuniesky Betancourt.

Les Walrond picked up the win after throwing a perfect 4th inning with a strikeout. Tim Lahey started the 5th and had a fairly good day. He retired the first 2 batters he faced before surrendering back-to-back walks with 2 outs. Lahey retired Ichiro on a groundout to short to end the inning.

Neal Cotts arguably had his best outing in a Cubs’ uniform. He retired the Mariners in order in the 6th….2 fly outs and a strikeout. Carmen Pignatiello gave up a double to Brad Wilkerson to start the 7th….but Wilkerson tried to stretch it to a triple. Felix Pie and Ryan Theriot made perfect relay throws to cut down Wilkerson at third. Pignatiello retired the next two batters on groundouts back to the mound.

Kevin Hart had his first rough outing of the spring. Hart gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and committed an error in 1/3 of an inning before leaving the game. Mike Morse singled to lead off the 8th. Bronson Sardinha hit a comebacker off of Hart’s leg; he beat the errant throw and advanced to 2nd when the ball ended up in right field. Hart then hit Jeff Clement to load the bases….with no outs. Bettencourt grounded out to 1st, Morse scored and Lou Piniella made the slow walk (according to Bruce Levine, Hart was limping around the mound).

Ed Campusano relieved Hart and gave up a sacrifice fly to Raul Ibanez before retiring Bryan LeHair on a groundout to 2nd.

Carlos Marmol finally made an appearance in the 9th. Marmol gave up a 1-out bloop single to right by Jeremy Reed and a 2-out walk to Mike Morse before striking out Sardinha looking to end the game….on a 3-2 pitch.

Lou Piniella’s crew is 3-6 so far this spring, 2-0 against the Mariners.

Box Score from Friday’s game

Saturday is the first of two split squad days for the Cubs this spring. Sean Marshall is scheduled to face Micah Owings and the Diamondbacks at HoHoKam on WGN TV’s first telecast of the year. The rest of the team will make the short trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium in a match-up of split squad teams. Jon Lieber is scheduled to face Rich Harden and the Oakland A’s.

Other News from Arizona

Several reports have indicated Alfonso Soriano is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday. With it being a split squad game, Soriano will likely stay at HoHoKam and face the D’Backs.

The Cubs made their first cuts of the spring on Friday morning. Billy Petrick was optioned to Triple-A Iowa while Tyler Colvin, Esmailin Caridad, Jose Ceda, Geoff Jones, Andres Torres, Bobby Scales, Welington Castillo and Josh Donaldson were returned to minor league camp.

And finally….Bruce Levine mentioned this several weeks back, but it appears the Cubs could be playing on the South Side for a year in the near future while Wrigley is be renovated according to a report by Paul Sullivan.

Quote of the Day

"The only way of finding the limits of the possibility is by going beyond them into the impossible." - Arthur C. Clarke
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