All Eyes on Garza – Cubs 3 Mariners 5

Spring Training Game Nineteen – Cubs 3 Mariners 5
WP – Cesar Jimenez (1-0) LP – Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1) Save – Justin Miller (1)

Monday afternoon in Peoria was all about Matt Garza. Mike Quade ran out a starting lineup, with the exception of Kosuke Fukudome, that figures to begin the year in Des Moines. The Cubs offense had plenty of chances against the Mariners but dropped another close game after leaving 13 runners on base … and at least one in every inning.

Matt Garza put together his best start of the spring. Garza completed four innings and allowed one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Garza threw 64 pitches, 35 for strikes. Garza mixed in breaking balls and changeups but still threw mostly fastballs in his fourth outing of the spring.

Garza also dropped down two successful sacrifice bunts, which is a good sign by the former Junior Circuit pitcher, but the results on the mound were much more important.

The Cubs lack of defense, even with a Spring Training travel squad, cost Garza in the third and contributed to the only run he allowed.

Sean Marshall surrendered only his second run of the spring. Marshall replaced Garza and took the hill trying to preserve a one-run lead. Marshall ended up allowing a run on two hits in an inning of work. Marshall did not walk a batter and struck out a pair.

One of the young arms in the system took the loss. Austin Bibens-Dirkx received the call-up from minor league camp and struggled with his command. Bibens-Dirkx gave up three runs on two hits and two walks to his original organization.

Bryan LaHair drove in two of the Cubs three runs with a pair of doubles in five trips to the plate. One of the Cubs’ top prospects, Matt Szczur, knocked in the Cubs’ third run with a RBI single in the eighth.

Welington Castillo continued to shine both at the plate and behind the dish. Castillo added two more hits to his spring resume and threw out Chone Figgins trying to steal second to end the first inning. Castillo has been impressive this spring and should receive more playing time over the next 15 days.

The Cubs defense committed another error and continued giving the opposition extra outs Monday afternoon in Peoria.

Wins and losses in Spring Training are irrelevant … but the results, execution and preparation are not. Matt Garza took positive steps forward in Monday’s start against the Mariners.

While Mike Quade played a travel squad, Eric Wedge ran out a majority of his regular lineup. The 2011 version of the Seattle Mariners will not be described as an offensive juggernaut but at least Garza’s outing was against Major Leaguers and not a Triple-A lineup.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first. After Reed Johnson worked a one-out walk and Scott Moore reached on a single to left, Bryan LaHair ripped a 3-2 pitch into right center. Johnson and Moore were running with the pitch and scored on the play. Josh Vitters grounded out to first to end the inning.

After scoring two more runs in the first inning Monday, the Cubs have scored a total of 16 first inning runs in 19 Spring Training games.

Matt Garza retired Ichiro to start the game but walked Chone Figgins. Franklin Gutierrez struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch as Figgins broke for second. Welington Castillo nailed Figgins at second to end the inning.

Garza threw 16 pitches in the first, eight for strikes.

Justin Smoak recorded the Mariners’ first hit, a one-out single in the second. Adam Kennedy hit a grounder to Scott Moore at second but Moore and Darwin Barney could not turn the double play. With Brendan Ryan at the plate, Kennedy broke for second. Garza stopped and a balk was called. Ryan ended up flying out to right to end the inning.

Garza threw 13 pitches in the second, nine for strikes.

The Mariners only run off Garza came in the third. Josh Wilson reached on an infield single to start the inning. Wilson hit a grounder up the middle that Moore got a glove on but he could not complete the throw. Garza walked Adam Moore to put two on with no outs.

Ichiro hit a grounder to Moore at second. Instead of throwing to Barney and trying to turn two, Moore ran down Adam Moore and tagged him. Wilson ended up at third and scored on an infield single to Barney at short off the bat of Chone Figgins. Barney’s throw was late at first.

The Mariners pulled off a double steal as Franklin Gutierrez was called out on a check swing. Jack Cust grounded out to first to end the inning.

The Cubs lack of defense ran up Garza’s pitch count and cost him a run. Garza threw 24 pitches in the third, 12 for strikes.

Garza finished his afternoon by retiring the Mariners in order in the fourth. Garza threw 11 pitches, six for strikes.

Sean Marshall took over in the fifth and gave up a leadoff single to Josh Wilson. Marshall struck out Moore and retired Ichiro on a fly out to center. Wilson stole second with Figgins at the plate. Figgins then blooped a double into right center on a 3-2 pitch. Wilson scored and tied the game at two. Marshall struck out Gutierrez to end the inning.

After the Cubs offense failed to score in the sixth (loaded the bases with no outs), Austin Bibens-Dirkx had a rough outing against his former organization.

Bibens-Dirkx struggled with his command and gave up three runs on two hits and two walks. Jack Cust walked to start the inning and advanced to third on a double by Justin Smoak. Adam Kennedy broke up the 2-2 tie with a double to right. Cust and Smoak scored … 4-2 Mariners.

Bibens-Dirkx then walked another free-swinger, Brendan Ryan. Josh Wilson dropped down a bunt and both runners moved up ninety feet. Adam Moore drove in the Mariners’ fifth and final run with a sacrifice fly to right.

Mike Quade began filtering in the call-ups from minor league camp in the seventh … along with Thomas Diamond.

Diamond put together a solid outing. Diamond pitched two scoreless and gave up just two hits with a strikeout and no walks.

The Cubs final run came in the eighth after a leadoff single by Darwin Barney. James Adduci followed with a single to left. After a wild pitch advanced Barney and Adduci to second and third, Matt Szczur ripped a single into left on a 3-1 pitch. Barney scored on the play. With two on and one out, Scott Moore hit into the Cubs second double play of the game to end the inning.

Ryan Flaherty, Wes Darvill, Marquez Smith and Kyler Burke also appeared in Monday’s game.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs fourth and final split squad day of the spring is Tuesday. Randy Wells will face the Rockies at HoHoKam and Andrew Cashner will get the start against the A’s in Phoenix.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out." - Steve Jobs
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  • GaryLeeT

    It would be an outrage, if Hill is taken over Castillo.

    • garrett

      Yeah it would be a major mistake but more likely then not it is gonna happen and max rameriz will be exposed to waivers. Again!!!

    • paulcatanese

      Gary,even a lightning bolt from the Almighty above could send a catcher to the Cubs and Hill would still be there. There are no words to describe his being there. Good thing I tape the games, I fast forward to the next hitter, cannot stand to watch him.

    • gocubs

      Castillo is 24 and is about at that age where he is going to either: make a big jump or just be about what he has shown up to now.

      He has shown some decent power, but his OBP leaves A LOT to be desired.

      I think as a backup, he could be a useful bat off the bench. He seems to go through hot streaks, so if Soto needs rest he might be our best option.

      I wish we had traded him and kept Chirinos.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=castil001wel

      • gocubs

        Offensively at least, he has to be a massive upgrade over HIll. But, there must be a reason why the Cubs love Hill. He does seem to work very well with the pitchers, but come on…I think its time to move on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

    I do not think that Castillo will be the back up on the cubs this year because they will want him to play every day at AAA. But I could see a case where he is up at the allstar break or if Soto gets injured again.

  • cubtex

    I’m not overly thrilled with the right handed options the Cubs will have on the bench especially if they take Kan’t Hit Hill. I mean with Hill,Ojeda/Barney, Baker and R Johnson/Perez that has to be one of the weakest right handed pinch hit options in all of baseball!!!! I hope a trade can be made on a player out of options from another team who can help this sorry a## bench. Too bad Xavier Paul from the Dodgers bats lefthanded because I think he won’t make their team.

  • http://www.wrigleyfieldnews.com/ WrigleyFieldNews.com

    RT @PWSullivan Z cleans out locker. Tells trainer he’s retired. 15 minutes ago