Castro Right in the Middle of the Win – Cubs 8 Angels 7

Game Twelve – Cubs 8 Angels 7
WP – Andrew Cashner (1-0) LP – Rich Thompson (0-2, BS 1) Save – Thomas Diamond (1)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their fourth game in a row and finished the long five-game weekend with a 4-1 record. Two non-roster invitees played a role in the victory against the Angels.

Kevin Millar drove in the Cubs first run with a double to left center in the first … and hit a two-run homer over the wall in left in the third. Millar finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk, a double, a home run, two runs scored and three RBI.

Starlin Castro (2-for-2 with a double, a run scored and two RBI) continued his impressive spring on Sunday afternoon. Castro reached base with a double and a single in his only two trips to the plate. Castro doubled in James Adduci with the tying run in the seventh and scored the go ahead run on a double by Micah Hoffpauir.

Castro also showed off his range and arm on Sunday with mixed results. Castro was shook up a little in the ninth on a grounder up the middle. Castro appeared to lose his footing and hit the dirt as he flipped the ball to Darwin Barney. Reports after the game indicated Castro’s knee was okay.

The Cubs offense pounded out 12 hits, six for extra bases, and scored at least a single run in five of the nine innings.

After being just short of perfect in his first two outings, Randy Wells struggled mightily in his third start of the spring. Larry Rothschild said Wells’ performance on Sunday might be a good wake-up call for the young right-hander.

Wells was hit rather hard in the second inning. The Angels sent 11 batters to the plate, scored six times and seemed to rattle the normally calm, cool and collected Randy Wells.

While the Cubs pen on Sunday allowed only one run after Randy Wells left the game, the questions surrounding the bullpen continue to be justified. Carlos Marmol was effective but struggled with his command and walked a batter. John Grabow, like Marmol, struggled with throwing strikes.

The Cubs pen allowed only four hits over the final six innings but they walked nine batters, five in the last two innings, with only seven strikeouts. Lou Piniella was visibly upset at the performances by Blake Parker and Thomas Diamond in the eighth and ninth.

With the win, the Cubs improved to 8-4 in the Cactus League …

The beginning of the game was the Kevin Millar show. Mike Fontenot reached on a one-out single to center in the first inning. After Xavier Nady flied out to left center, Kevin Millar doubled to left center. Fontenot scored, 1-0 Cubs.

Marlon Byrd followed with a single to left, Millar scored and gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Alfonso Soriano hit a ball thrown by Joel Pineiro … and singled to left. But Byrd was thrown out the plate to end the inning.

Randy Wells took a 2-0 lead into the second inning. Wells had not allowed a run or walked a batter in his two previous starts, that changed on Sunday.

Kendry Morales led off the inning with a long home run to right. After Juan Rivera flied out, Wells walked Mike Napoli. Brandon Wood blooped a single into left center. The Angels showed the Cubs how to run the bases early in the game. The Angels’ catcher went from first to third on a single …

Reggie Willits tied the game at two with a single to right.

Maicer Izturis blooped another single into center and plated Wood with the go ahead run. Howie Kendrick cleared the bases with a triple to right center … 5-2, Angels. Torii Hunter walked ahead of Hideki Matsui’s single to right. Kendrick scored and gave the Angels a 6-2 lead in the exhibition game. Wells struck out Morales looking and Rivera on a ground out to third to end the inning.

With the Cubs down 6-2, Xavier Nady doubled to left off of Joel Pineiro. With one out in the third, Kevin Millar cut the deficit in half with a two-run homer over the left field wall. Pineiro retired Byrd and Soriano to end the inning … and his outing.

Randy Wells struggled with his command again in the third. Wells walked Mike Napoli to start the inning on four pitches. Wells could not find a rhythm and labored through his three innings of work (Wells was scheduled to throw four innings on Sunday). Wells’ line: six runs, all earned, on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Mike Fontenot hit his first longball of the spring in the fifth off of Anthony Ortega. Fontenot’s dinger put the Cubs just one run behind … 6-5 Angels after five innings.

After the Piniella emptied his bench, for the most part, the Cubs made their comeback. James Adduci led off the seventh with a single to right. Starlin Castro stepped in and worked the count to 3-1 against Rich Thompson. Piniella sent Adduci on the next pitch. Castro hit a double to the wall in left. Adduci scored and tied the game at six.

Xavier Nady flied out to center and advanced Castro to third. Micah Hoffpauir ripped Thompson’s first pitch into right center. Castro scored easily and gave the Cubs a 7-6 lead.

Adduci and Castro gave the Cubs an insurance run in the eighth. James Adduci worked a two-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right by Starlin Castro … 8-6, Cubs after seven and a half.

Blake Parker did not help his stock on Sunday afternoon. After retiring the first two batters he faced in the eighth (two strikeouts), Michael Ryan hit a long foul ball off of him on a 2-1 pitch. Parker lost his command and walked Ryan. Parker ended up walking the next two batters he faced to load the bases … he was never the same after the loud strike.

Piniella had seen enough and brought in Thomas Diamond with two outs, the bases loaded and the Cubs up by two.

Diamond walked the first batter he faced to force in a run. With the Cubs up 8-7, Diamond struck out Efren Navarro looking on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

Thomas Diamond struggled a little with his command in the ninth. He gave up a bunt single and a walked before retiring Michael Ryan on a long fly to right to end the game.

Box Score from MLB.com

Carlos Zambrano will face Jeff Francis and the Rockies on Monday afternoon in Tucson.

Quote of the Day

"Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves." - W Anderson.
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