Spring Training Game Twelve – Cubs 4 Royals 13
WP – Bruce Chen (1-0) LP – Matt Garza (0-2) Save – None
Wednesday was a rough day for the Cubs pitching staff and offense. The Cubs’ offense hit the ball and had plenty of opportunities but they managed only four runs on 11 hits. The Cubs walked five times and hit into three double plays. Q’s crew left nine on base and finished the afternoon 3-for-9 with RISP.
The Cubs lone offensive highlight came courtesy of Marlon Byrd. Byrd continued his hot spring, added another multi-hit game to his spring resume and hit his first longball. But the lack of clutch hitting that has been one of the many problems for the Cubs over the past two seasons has continued this spring.
While the offense could not hit when it counted, the Cubs pitching staff struggled with their command and ended up throwing batting practice, when they hit the strike zone, to the Royals.
Matt Garza barely got out of the first inning. Garza could not locate his fastball and gave up five runs, all earned, before the Cubs ever swung a bat. The Royals batted around before the Cubs had a chance to swing a bat. Garza threw 40 pitches in the first, 21 for strikes.
Garza was lifted with two outs in the third. Garza allowed six runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Carlos Marmol was dominant again Wednesday. Marmol struck out two of the three batters he faced and kept the Royals from rounding the bases. Jeff Stevens also had a solid outing.
Jay Jackson, Justin Berg and Esmailin Caridad allowed the Royals other seven runs.
The Cubs defense did not add to the spring error total, which was one of the few positives that could be taken from Wednesday’s practice game … Matt Garza struggled right out of the gate. Garza walked Lorenzo Cain and Mike Aviles to start the game … eight of Garza’s first 10 pitches was out of the strike zone.
Billy Butler drove in the game’s first run, a single to left on a 1-1 pitch. Garza struck out Wilson Betemit swinging but walked the free-swinging Jeff Francoeur to load the bases … the third free pass for the Royals.
Garza jumped ahead of Melky Cabrera before the former Yankee and Brave cleared the bases with a triple to center.
The Royals took a 4-0 lead with one out in the top of the first.
Alex Gordon made it 5-0 with a bloop single to left.
Garza seemed to find a little rhythm at that point and retired Manuel Pina (strikeout) and Alcides Escobar (tap out to Soto) to end the inning. Garza threw 40 pitches in the first, 21 for strikes.
The Cubs chipped into the Royals lead in the bottom of the first.
Jeff Baker walked to start the inning. Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out single to left off of Wilson Betemit’s glove. Baker advanced to third and the always-hustling Byrd made it to second on the play.
Aramis Ramirez grounded out to second. Baker scored … 5-1 Royals.
Geovany Soto walked but Alfonso Soriano struck out looking to end the inning.
Garza bounced back with a solid second inning. Garza retired three of the four batters he faced (one-out walk to Mike Avilas) on 18 pitches, nine for strikes.
Matt Garza’s day came to an end in the third. Garza retired Francoeur and Cabrera to start the inning (groundout and strikeout) before giving up a single to Alex Gordon on a 3-1 pitch.
Mike Quade brought in Jay Jackson at that point to finish the inning.
Gordon stole second and scored on a single to center by Manuel Pina … and closed the book on Matt Garza.
Marlon Byrd made it a 6-2 deficit with a solo home run in the third.
Jay Jackson stayed in the game and gave up a run in the top of the fourth. Mike Avilas singled to center on a 0-2 pitch. Billy Butler followed with a single to left. Ned Yost called a hit and run and Avilas ended up at third.
Wilson Betemit lined out to left. Avilas tagged and scored the Royals seventh run.
The Royals made it 8-2 in the top of the fifth. Melky Cabrera doubled to left center. Brett Carroll ran for Cabrera and scored on Gordon’s double off the batter’s eye in center. Jay Jackson settled down and retired Pina, Escobar and Cain to end the inning.
Mike Quade began emptying his bench in the sixth and brought in Carlos Marmol.
Marmol was nasty in the sixth, throwing to Max Ramirez. Marmol struck out two and threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes.
Josh Vitters doubled and scored in the sixth. Following a walk by Max Ramirez, Reed Johnson came through with his first extra base knock of the spring … a double off the wall in right that plated Vitters.
With runners on second and third with one out, Carlos Pena walked to load the bases. James Adduci hit into the Cubs third double play of the game … a 4-6-3 to end the inning.
Justin Berg struggled with his command in the seventh. Berg could not throw strikes. He hit a batter, walked another and gave up two runs on one hit.
After Jeff Stevens kept the Cubs deficit at 10-3 in the eighth, Esmailin Caridad gave up three runs in the ninth on three hits. Like those before him, Caridad could not throw strikes.
The Cubs made it 13-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Chris Robinson reached on a one-out, pinch-hit double. After a Jeff Baker single, Darwin Barney plated Robinson with a single to right.
Wednesday was another rough day in the Cactus League for the Chicago Cubs.
Thursday is Ron Santo Day at HoHoKam Park. The Cubs will host the Cleveland Indians and Randy Wells will face Justin Masterson.