Game One – Cubs 5 Dodgers 3
WP – Ken Kadokura (1-0) LP – Ramon Troncoso (0-1, BS 1) Save – Jeff Stevens (1)
Ron Santo received the best birthday present possible…a Cubs Win! 7,916 showed up to HoHoKam Park on a beautiful day in the low 80s for the Cubs Cactus League opener against the Dodgers. And they did not leave disappointed.
Jeff Samardzija started the game and after a tremendous diving catch in right center by Reed Johnson helped him retire the Dodgers in order in the first, he stumbled a little in the second inning and gave a pair on three hits and two walks.
Mitch Atkins was charged with the Dodgers’ third run in his two innings of work. Atkins, like Samardzija, looked good in his first inning of work. Ken Kadokura picked up the win after his scoreless inning of relief and Jeff Stevens picked up the save.
The highlight was clearly Micah Hoffpauir’s grand slam in the fifth. Hoffpauir grounded into a double play in the first inning that accounted for the Cubs fifth run of the game. After a wild warm-up session, Jeff Samardzija took the mound in the first inning and set the Dodgers down in order. Reed Johnson made a diving catch in right center that robbed Brad Ausmus of at least a double.
Samardzija struggled in the second after giving up a single to right to James Loney. Casey Blake followed with a single off of Bobby Scales’ glove at third and Loney advanced to third. The Shark then walked Matt Kemp to load the bases.
Samardzija jumped out ahead of Delwyn Young 0-2 before getting squeezed on a 2-2 pitch. Young worked a walk to load the bases for the second time in the inning.
Tony Abreu came through with the big hit of the inning, a single to center on a 0-1 pitch that drove in the Dodgers’ first two runs. Reed Johnson missed the cutoff man and Abreu advanced to second on the play. With runners on first and second with two outs, Juan Pierre grounded out to Derrek Lee to end the inning.
The Dodgers added to their lead in the fourth. Mitch Atkins looked very sharp in the third and of the 15 pitches he threw, 12 were for strikes but the fourth inning was much different.
Atkins did not look as confident in his second inning of work. He threw 11 pitches, five for strikes and allowed the Dodgers’ third run. Matt Kemp singled and stole second then scored on a single to right off the bat of Blake DeWitt.
After the fourth inning, the Dodgers’ offensive reserves were shutdown by the Cubs bullpen.
Esmailin Caridad was impressive in his inning of work. Three groundouts on 11 pitches, seven for strikes.
With a two-run lead in the 9th, Lou Piniella brought in Jeff Stevens to close it out. Stevens struggled with his command and gave up a hard single to start the inning. After a strikeout and a walk, Luis Maza flied out to Doug Deeds on the warning track in right to end the game.
The Cubs offense was less than spectacular, other than the long fly by Micah Hoffpauir.
Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot started the game with back-to-back singles. Derrek Lee followed with a walk that loaded the bases with no outs. Micah Hoffpauir stepped in and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch. Soriano scored the Cubs first run of the spring on the play.
Brad Snyder led off the fifth with a walk. Ryan Theriot followed with a lined single to left (the second hard hit ball of the day by Theriot to the left side). Darwin Barney pinch ran for Theriot and beat out a throw at second to load the bases.
Micah Hoffpauir followed with a no-doubter over the wall in right center.
Lou Piniella played a majority of his roster on Wednesday. The following players all saw action off the bench:
- Jake Fox
- Brad Snyder
- Darwin Barney
- Andres Blanco (made a slick defensive play in the sixth)
- Jason Dubois
- So Taguchi
- Luis Rivas
- Koyie Hill
- Jason Waddell
- Sam Fuld
- Doug Deeds
Wednesday was a great day at the old ballpark. The game might have not been the most exciting but a Cubs win, especially on Ron Santo’s birthday…can it get any better?
The Cubs and Sean Marshall will face the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at HoHoKam Park. Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley are expected to be in the starting lineup.