Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 9 Mariners (ss) 2
WP – Aaron Heilman (1-0) LP – Gaby Hernandez (0-1) Save – None
Lou Piniella and a mostly B-team lineup made the trip to Peoria on Thursday and left with another Cactus League victory led by Micah Hoffpauir. Hoffpauir hit his fourth home run of the spring in the third inning off Gaby Hernandez…a three-run shot and the biggest hit in the Cubs’ six-run third inning.
Jake Fox followed Hoffpauir in the third with a solo home run, his third of the exhibition season. Aaron Miles hit leadoff on Thursday and was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Nate Spears made the trip from minor league camp and drove in three of the Cubs’ nine runs with a pair of singles in five trips to the plate.
Koyie Hill, who appears to have the inside track at being named the Cubs’ back-up catcher, added another single to his spring resume and was 1-for-4 with a run scored.
Corey Koskie started the game at third base but was replaced by Bobby Scales in the third inning after he told the coaching staff he did not feel good. Koskie received his first action of the spring in the field and reportedly dove for a ground ball in the first inning. Koskie said he was not feeling well soon after and the Cubs lifted him immediately.
Aaron Heilman put together another impressive outing. Heilman threw the ball well and allowed only one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings. The Mariners’ split squad put together only four hits and a walk while Heilman struck out a group made of mostly minor leaguers. Heilman found out after the game that he would begin the season in the Cubs’ bullpen.
David Patton improved his stock once again. Patton gave up a pair of hits and struck out two in an inning of work. However, he dealt well with a first and third situation with one-out in the eighth and induced an inning ending double play that got him out of trouble. Lou Piniella’s crew put the exhibition game away in the third inning. Down 1-0, Koyie Hill started the hit parade with a single to center. Joey Gathright followed with a walk. Aaron Miles reached on a single to right that loaded the bases…with no outs.
Nate Spears gave the Cubs the lead for good with a single to left. Hill and Gathright both scored and Spears was on board for Micah Hoffpauir’s fourth long ball of the spring.
Jake Fox followed Hoffpauir and the back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead and one the bullpen would not blow on Thursday. The Cubs scored all six runs in the third without making the first out.
In the fourth it was a two-out double by Aaron Miles and a RBI single to left by Nate Spears that added to the Cubs lead.
The offense was rather quiet through the middle innings but tacked on in the eighth.
Bobby Scales led off with a double to left and advanced to third on a single by Reed Johnson. Ty Wright followed with a ground-rule double…Scales scored. Koyie Hill struck out with runners on second and third but James Adduci singled to center. Reed Johnson scored the Cubs’ ninth and final run.
Rich Harden and the Cubs will host the San Diego Padres on Friday. Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto are expected in the starting lineup. WGN TV and WGN Radio will carry the game.