Punching Tickets…and a New Park Record – Cubs 6 Giants 8

Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 6 Giants 8
WP – Brian Wilson (1-0) LP – Jose Ascanio (0-1, BS 1) Save – Felix Romero (1)

The Cubs hit Giants’ starter Tim Lincecum hard on Wednesday afternoon and knocked the 2008 NL Cy Young Award winner out of the game with two outs in the fourth inning. Alfonso Soriano led off the game with his third home run of the spring off of Lincecum’s first pitch. The Cubs scored three runs in the first and added another in the fourth before Lincecum departed. All toll, the Cubs scored four runs on seven hits with four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Lincecum struck out six, but two were Ryan Dempster on fouled bunt attempts.

Ryan Dempster tossed five shutout innings in his longest outing of the spring. Dempster gave up only four hits with a walk and left with a 5-0 lead.

Chad Gaudin struggled again. He gave up a pair of runs on two hits with a walk in an inning of work. Luis Vizcaino stuck out three in the seventh but gave up a home run to Jesus Guzman, his fourth of the spring.

Lou Piniella’s crew took a 5-3 lead into the ninth and while Spring Training wins and losses do not matter, the performance turned in by Jose Ascanio on Wednesday is concerning. After improving his stock the last couple of weeks, Ascanio struggled in his last outing and probably punched his ticket to Iowa after his implosion against the Giants.

Jose Ascanio gave up five runs on four hits in the ninth…and the big knock belonged to Nick Noonan, a grand slam to right center.

The good news from Wednesday was that the Cubs regulars outplayed the Giants regulars, but the bad news was the clearly the outing turned in by Jose Ascanio.

After setting a new attendance record at HoHoKam Park on February 28 against the White Sox, the Cubs and Giants topped the mark by 14 with 13,024 going through the turnstiles on Wednesday afternoon.

The Cubs offense recorded at least one hit in each of the first four innings and was not retired in order until the sixth.

Alfonso Soriano led off the game with the first home run allowed this spring by Tim Lincecum. Lincecum was wild on Wednesday and issued only his second walk in the Cactus League to Ryan Theriot. Theriot stole second with Aramis Ramirez at the plate but after Ramirez walked, Theriot was thrown out at third with Micah Hoffpauir at the dish.

Lincecum then uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Ramirez to second. Micah Hoffpauir then lined a 2-1 pitch to right center that went for a triple. Ramirez scored and Hoffpauir added another impressive hit in the last week off a Cy Young Award winner.

Mike Fontenot followed with a single to center that plated Hoffpauir with the third run of the inning off of Lincecum.

Joey Gathright’s speed helped manufactured a run off Lincecum in the fourth. Gathright reached on an infield single to the hole at short…Edgar Renteria could not throw him out. After the second failed bunt attempt by Ryan Dempster and a strikeout by Alfonso Soriano on a foul tip, Gathright stole second and scored on a single to center by Ryan Theriot.

The Cubs received a solid outing from Ryan Dempster and good offensive days from Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot, Micah Hoffpauir and Joey Gathright. Dempster ended up in only a few three-ball counts but made the pitch he needed to keep from issuing a walk. Dempster kept the ball down for the most part and induced six groundball outs to five fly ball outs.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs and Aaron Heilman will make the trip to Peoria on Thursday. Gaby Hernandez is scheduled to start for the Mariners. Corey Koskie should get the start at third and Geovany Soto is expected back in camp.

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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