Spring Training Game Thirty-Two – Cubs 3 Indians 4
WP – Carlos Carrasco (1-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (0-2) Save – Vinnie Pestano (2)
After showing improvement for nearly a week, the Cubs have gone backwards over the last two games as the exhibition season comes to an end.
The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent again Monday. Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez tallied four of the Cubs six hits and Pena recorded the Cubs only two RBI … a solo home run in the second and a double in the ninth. The Cubs had a chance to tie and/or take the lead in the ninth but Alfonso Soriano struck out with the tying run on third and Reed Johnson came up empty with the bases loaded to end the game.
Carlos Zambrano struggled with his command in his final tune-up. Zambrano gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits with five walks and two strikeouts in five innings of work. The Cubs defense did not pick up their starting pitcher and committed more mistakes then the single error that ended up on the box score. Z got his work in but was not as sharp as he’s been this spring.
Chris Carpenter and John Grabow labored through their inning of work while Marcos Mateo was very impressive once again.
Cubs pitching issued seven free passes and hit a batter to go along with the six hits allowed … the offense worked just two walks (both in the ninth) and picked up two free baserunners in the ninth when Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano hit Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill to help with the late rally.
Q’s crew has one more Cactus League game remaining and an Intrasquad game before departing for Chicago and Opening Day on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates … Carlos Zambrano made quick work of the Indians in the first but struggled in his other four innings of work.
Carlos Pena gave Big Z a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the second … Pena’s third homer cleared the wall in right. Outside of Pena’s blast, the Cubs offense was ineffective until the ninth.
The Indians tied the game in the bottom of the second. Carlos Santana led off with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. Austin Kearns singled to right on a 1-2 pitch ahead of Orlando Cabrera flying out to right. Santana tagged and advanced to third on Cabrera’s fly out.
Matt LaPorta tied the game with a sac fly to right center on a 2-0 pitch.
Carlos Zambrano issued a one out walk to Grady Sizemore in the third. Asdrubal Cabrera worked the count to 3-2 before swinging and missing at Z’s next offering. Koyie Hill threw a strike to Starlin Castro to nail Sizemore at second to end the inning.
As the Cubs were busy making outs, the Indians took the lead in the fourth and tacked on in the fifth.
Z walked Travis Buck on four pitches to start the fourth … then issued a free pass to Carlos Santana on five pitches. Z threw seven straight out of the strike zone before receiving a visit from Carlos Pena.
Zambrano settled down and retired Austin Kearns on a fly out to right center. Orlando Cabrera then ripped a double down the left field line. The ball went off Aramis Ramirez’s glove and plated Buck with the go ahead run.
Matt LaPorta lined out to short and Jack Hannahan grounded out to Darwin Barney to end the inning.
The Indians took a 4-1 lead in the fifth … with a little help from Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.
Michael Brantley reached on an error by Starlin Castro to start the inning. Grady Sizemore hit a rocket to short. Castro knocked the ball down and threw out Brantley at second but Barney could not turn the double play. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right center.
With Travis Buck at the plate, Z uncorked a wild pitch. Both runners advanced on the play. Buck ended up working a walk to load the bases with one out.
Z then walked Carlos Santana to force in the Indians’ third run.
Austin Kearns hit a tailor made double play ball to Starlin Castro. Castro bobbled the ball, threw to Barney to force Santana but Barney dropped the ball. Cabrera scored and Kearns reached on the miscue.
Orlando Cabrera flied out to center to end the inning … and Carlos Zambrano’s afternoon. At the end of five, the Indians had a comfortable 4-1 lead following a mistake filled half inning by the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs made the exhibition game interesting in the ninth.
Chris Perez hit Tyler Colvin on a 0-2 pitch. Aramis Ramirez then worked the Cubs first walk of the game. With runners on first and second with one out, Carlos Pena stepped in and put together an excellent at bat. Pena made Perez work before ripping a double down the right field line on a 3-2 pitch. Colvin scored, 4-2 Indians.
James Adduci ran for Pena and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ramirez scored on the play … 4-3 Indians. With the tying run on third, Alfonso Soriano eventually struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Darwin Barney walked to put runners on first and third with two outs.
Chris Perez left in apparent pain, no word on his condition following the game. Vinnie Pestano replaced Perez and hit Koyie Hill to load the bases.
Reed Johnson struck out on a foul tip to end the game.
One more Cactus League game remains for Q’s crew.
Matt Garza will face Joe Saunders and the Diamondbacks in the spring finale at HoHoKam Park on Tuesday afternoon. The Cubs are looking to stretch out Garza in his final spring start.