Spring Training Game Thirty-One – Cubs 4 Rockies (ss) 6
WP – Clay Mortensen (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (1-1) Save – None
The Cubs four-game spring winning streak came to an end with a lackadaisical effort Sunday afternoon. After showing a lot of improvement over the last week, Q’s crew looked indifferent against a Rockies’ split squad.
Ryan Dempster did not pitch as questionable as he final line indicates. Dempster allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings. All three runs scored on two doubles by Jose Morales … both of Morales’ doubles came on misplayed balls by Brett Jackson and Alfonso Soriano.
Dempster hit his spots and threw 73 pitches in his final spring tune-up, 47 for strikes.
James Russell retired the first six batters he faced and looked very sharp against left-handed hitters. Russell faced several right-handed hitters in his third inning of work and struggled … with a little help from the Cubs defense. Russell gave up two runs on four hits in the seventh, which sealed the exhibition win for the Colorado Rockies.
John Grabow gave up an unearned run in his inning of work … and was not as sharp as he’s been in previous outings.
Carlos Marmol made quick work of the Rockies’ minor leaguers in the ninth. Marmol struck out two of the three batters he faced.
The Cubs lone highlight of the afternoon came in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler Colvin put the Cubs on the board with his third homer of the year … a Grand Slam over the wall in right on a 3-2 pitch after being behind in the count 0-2. Prior to the eighth, the Cubs offense had managed just six hits.
Sunday’s loss guarantees the Cubs will finish their Cactus League schedule with a below .500 record.
The dog days of Spring Training appear to have set in for Q’s crew. At this point, the Cubs goal must be to leave Arizona as healthy as possible after Wednesday’s Intrasquad game … Ryan Dempster made quick work of the Rockies in the first inning, retiring the first three hitter in order. Jason Giambi led off the second with a towering double to center. The ball hit off the corrugated wall and bounced away from Brett Jackson.
Seth Smith grounded out to second, Giambi advanced to third and held when Dempster appeared to work around Ian Stewart. Dempster issued his fourth free pass of the spring to Stewart, a four-pitch walk that put runners on first and third with one out.
Jose Morales then ripped a 1-2 offering into left center. Brett Jackson appeared to pause before taking a bad route to the ball. Giambi and Stewart scored on a ball that should have been caught by the Cubs’ top prospect.
Jackson got the ball into Starlin Castro quickly and the relay nailed Morales at third. Tug Hulett grounded out to short to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against Clay Mortensen in the home half of the second and third.
The Rockies made it 3-0 in the fourth thanks to another bad play by a Cubs outfielder.
Seth Smith reached on a one out single to center. Dempster retired Stewart on a fly out to center. Jose Morales then hit a sinking liner into left that tailed toward the line. Alfonso Soriano tried to make a diving catch instead of just pulling up and keeping the ball in front of him. Smith scored all the way from first as Soriano recovered from an awkward landing … and tracked down the ball after it rolled past him.
Dempster walked Tug Hulett before retiring Clay Mortensen on a ground out to short to end the inning … and his afternoon.
The two of the three runs Dempster allowed should not have scored.
James Russell took over in the fifth and was very sharp in two of his three innings of work … but the Cubs defense cost the young southpaw a couple of earned runs in the seventh.
Tug Hulett reached on a double down the left field line … a ball that a Major League left fielder should catch. Matt Pagnozzi then singled to left on a 1-0 pitch. Hulett held at third with one out.
Delta Cleary hit for Dexter Fowler and lifted Russell’s first pitch into center. Brett Jackson caught the ball and threw all the way home. Jackson’s throw was high and off the mark. Hulett scored and Pagnozzi advanced to second on a ball that was thrown too high to be cut off.
Jonathan Herrera singled to left, Soriano charged but bobbled the ball. Pagnozzi scored easily … 5-0 Rockies. Another right-handed hitter, Jason Botts singled to left. Soriano threw Herrera out at third to end the inning.
The Rockies sixth and final run of the game came in the top of the eighth … after another error. A throwing miscue by D.J. LeMahieu on a would-be 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs have two more practice games and an Intrasquad game before the season begins Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Carlos Zambrano will make his final tune-up of the spring Monday afternoon against the Indians in Goodyear.