Game Thirteen – Cubs 2 Rangers 7
WP – Derek Holland (1-0) LP – Chad Fox (0-1) Save – None
The Cubs dropped their sixth game in a row Sunday afternoon, the first that was not decided by two runs or less. Sean Marshall started the game and was excellent…to use an old cliché he picked up where he left off.
Sean Marshall pitched four shutout innings, struck out three, did not walk a batter and surrendered only two hits. Marshall faced the minimum through three and pitched ahead in the count most of his outing. Marshall left with a 2-0 lead, but the Cubs bullpen could not hold it.
Luis Vizcaino was awful. He walked three the bases loaded in the fifth before allowing a 2-out, 2-run single to left by Ian Kinsler that tied the game. Mike Stanton bailed out Vizcaino and retired David Murphy on a fly out to left that chased Alfonso Soriano to the wall.
Jose Ascanio struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth and Neal Cotts surrendered a hit but also struck out the side. Chad Fox took the loss after a leadoff walk to Omar Vizquel led to the go ahead run. Kevin Hart could not find the strike zone. Hart walked a pair and gave up a single before Greg Golson hit a grand slam to left center that put the game away.
For the first time this spring, Lou Piniella’s starting lineup closely resembled one that could take the field during the regular season. Alfonso Soriano (LF), Ryan Theriot (SS), Derrek Lee (1B), Milton Bradley (RF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Reed Johnson (CF), Aaron Miles (2B) and Koyie Hill (C) played a majority of the game. Ramirez doubled, Soriano walked and Bradley singled and scored a run.
But the real stories on Sunday from Mesa were the performance by Sean Marshall and all of the walks issued by Piniella’s staff. Five of the seven walks issued by Cubs’ pitching came around to score…
Sean Marshall was just short of perfection in his four innings of work. Marshall retired the Rangers in order to start the game on 10 pitches, seven for strikes. Marshal kept the ball down…all three outs were made on the ground.
Josh Hamilton led off the second with a single to right. Marlon Byrd tapped back to the mound for the first out…Hamilton advanced to second on the play. Chris Davis followed with a line out to Derrek Lee. Lee threw to second and doubled off Hamilton. Marshall threw 11 pitches, nine for strikes.
Marshall sat down the Rangers in order in the third on 11 pitches, seven for strikes. Marshall recorded his first strikeout but it was of Rangers’ pitcher Matt Harrison who was instructed not to swing the bat.
Sean Marshall worked around a 1-out single by David Murphy in the fourth. Struck out Ian Kinsler to start the inning and Michael Young to end it. Marshall threw 13 pitches, 10 for strikes.
The Cubs scored their two runs in the second and third innings. Milton Bradley led off the frame with a single to center. Advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third on an infield single by Aramis Ramirez. Bradley scored on a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Reed Johnson.
Koyie Hill led off the third with a double to left. Sean Marshall sacrificed him to third and after a walk by Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot grounded out to second to plate Hill. For the third time in the last week Derrek Lee was called out on strikes with a runner in scoring position to end an inning. Lee tried to check his swing and was called out.
Jeff Samardzija is slated to make the start on Monday against the Royals at HoHoKam. Chad Gaudin is expected to follow the Shark. Brian Bannister is scheduled to make the start for Kansas City with Luke Hochevar to follow. Former Cub Kyle Farnsworth is scheduled to make his first appearance in Mesa since being traded from the Cubs before the 2005 season.