Game Twenty-Six – Cubs 13 White Sox 2
WP – Sean Marshall (3-0) LP – Mark Buehrle (0-1) Save – None
Spring Training or not, anytime Lou Piniella’s crew beats the White Sox…it’s a great day. The Cubs put on an offensive display in front of another record crowd at Camelback Ranch. A day after setting an all-time Cactus League attendance record, a new record crowd of 13,311 watched Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth longball of the spring, Milton Bradley hit his first dinger as a Cub and Jake Fox drive in five runs with a 3-run homer and a 2-run double.
The Cubs’ offense abused White Sox pitching to the tune of 13 runs on 19 hits with three doubles and three home runs. Lou Piniella ran out several of his regulars and they chased Mark Buehrle after he allowed eight runs, all earned, on seven hits in only 3 2/3 innings.
Nine of the Cubs 13 runs were scored with two outs. The Cubs sent 10 to the plate in the third and scored all six runs with two outs.
Sean Marshall continued his impressive spring. He held a White Sox lineup full of mostly everyday players to two runs on five hits in five innings. Marshall hit a batter but did not issue a free pass and two of his three strikeouts was Jim Thome. Marshall retired the Sox slugger on three pitches swinging in the second and on four pitches swinging in the third.
Jeff Samardzija took over for Marshall in the sixth as he tries to make the club out of Spring Training as a reliever. The Shark was impressive and pitched with a lot of confidence. He gave up a one-out single to Jim Thome and struck out both Ben Broussard and A.J. Pierzynski swinging. Samardzija threw 13 pitches, 10 for strikes.
The Cubs apparently like the new field in Glendale. In two games over the last week the Cubs scored 25 runs and allowed only five. Sean Marshall kept the ball down for the most part on Saturday. The only balls the White Sox elevated were the double by DeWayne Wise and the home run by Josh Fields. Marshall recorded three groundball outs in the first inning and on the day 10 of the 12 outs on balls in play were made on the ground.
Marshall was very successful throwing strikes, staying ahead in counts and pounding the strike zone. One of the biggest differences this spring with Marshall has been his aggressiveness on the mound and for the most part he continued that on Saturday.
The White Sox first run off Marshall came in the third. DeWayne Wise reached on a 1-out double, advanced to third on a fly out to deep center by Brian Anderson and scored on a single to left by Chris Getz…only Marshall’s second earned run of the spring.
The Sox second and final run came in the fifth on a home run to right by Josh Fields.
Luis Vizcaino threw a scoreless inning of relief on Saturday. Vizcaino is extremely deliberate on the mound and throws a lot of pitches. He struck out two but he could be the bullpen version of Steve Trachsel.
Mike Stanton issued the only walk of the afternoon by Cubs’ pitching in the eighth. Stanton and Chad Fox threw shutout innings as they fight to make the Opening Day roster.
The Cubs offense was sparked once again by Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot. The top two hitters in Piniella’s lineup were a combined 3-for-5 with four runs scored, a walk and two RBI. Soriano drove in the eventual winning run with his fourth home run of the spring in the third…just to the right of straight away center. Soriano really looks like a different player at the plate over the last week….and he is running.
Theriot followed Soriano’s dinger with a double down the left field line. Following a pop out to center by Reed Johnson, Milton Bradley circled the bases after his first home run as a Cub…a towering drive right-handed to the opposite field off Mark Buehrle.
The Cubs six-run fourth inning was fueled by two walks…and execution. Mike Fontenot led off the frame with a walk. Lou Piniella called for the hit and run with Aaron Miles. Miles grounded out to third, but Fontenot advanced on the play. So Taguchi drove in Fontenot with a double to left center that one hopped the wall. Alfonso Soriano hit Buehrle’s first pitch to left. Taguchi scored and Soriano advanced on the poor throw by Carlos Quentin.
Ryan Theriot walked on four pitches. Reed Johnson followed with a bloop single to left that plated Soriano and chased Mark Buehrle from the game.
Milton Bradley drove in his third run of the game with a single to right. Jake Fox then doubled down the third base line and both Reed Johnson and Bradley scored on the play. Mike Fontenot, the tenth batter of the inning, singled to right but Jake Fox was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The Cubs did the “little things” on Saturday against one of the better pitchers in the American League…and one of the better relievers, Scott Linebrink.
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Erik Bedard and the Mariners on Sunday at HoHoKam Park. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.