Spring Training Game Thirty-Three – Cubs 8 Diamondbacks 15
WP – Joe Saunders (1-3) LP – Matt Garza (1-4) Save – None
The Cubs completed their 34-game Cactus League schedule by dropping the final three contests of the spring. Q’s crew finished an inconsistent camp with an incredibly strange, offensive day at HoHoKam Park.
Typically the final Spring Training game ends before it ever has a chance to begin. Most walk to the plate swinging just looking to end the exhibition season as soon as possible … but not this year. Tuesday’s finale lasted three hours and 31 minutes with the first five innings taking over two hours.
The Cubs and Diamondbacks scored a combined 23 runs (20 in the first five innings) on 26 hits with 11 walks and four hits batsmen. Both teams put together sloppy performances in a meaningless game that felt like would never end.
Matt Garza was lit up again in his three-plus innings of work. Garza threw a lot of pitches (91, 63 for strikes) against the free-swinging D-Backs. Garza gave up four runs in the first three innings before taking the mound to start the fourth. Garza surrendered a double to Kelly Johnson before walking the bases loaded and turning the game over to Scott Maine. Maine closed the book on Garza by serving up a 3-2 pitch to Xavier Nady that ended up over the wall in center. Nady’s slam gave Arizona an 8-5 lead and they never looked back.
Matt Garza had a very strange outing. The first eight hits he allowed were soft-hit or bloop singles … and seven of the nine outs he recorded Tuesday came via a strikeout. Only two outs Garza recorded were on balls put in play.
Garza’s final line in his last spring outing … seven runs on 11 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in three-plus innings.
Scott Maine was horrible Tuesday in relief of Garza. Maine served up three home runs in his inning of work … a Grand Slam to Xavier Nady, a three-run jack by Kelly Johnson and a solo shot by David Winfree.
Jeff Samardzija was not much better than his predecessors. Samardzija allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in an inning of work … with only one strikeout.
Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood provided the Cubs only pitching highlights. Marshall retired all three batters he faced in the eighth … and Wood did the same in the ninth.
The Cubs offense actually scored more runs (and nearly as many walks) as the amount of hits they recorded. Q’s crew scored eight runs on seven hits with six walks and three hit batsmen… but managed only one baserunner over the last three innings.
Carlos Pena (1-for-2 with a double, a walk and three RBI) drove in three of the Cubs eight runs with a bases clearing double in the third. Jeff Baker had a huge day as well and drove in two with a 2-for-3 afternoon. Aramis Ramirez reached base all three times with a RBI single and a pair of walks.
Due to the cancellation of the game in Phoenix on March 23, the Cubs finished their 2011 Cactus League schedule with a 14-19 record in 33 games played … The best part about Tuesday was that the Cubs finished the exhibition season for the most part very healthy. Jeff Baker and Marlon Byrd have nagging injuries but Baker’s sore left hamstring and Byrd’s stiff back does not appear to be serious injuries.
The Diamondbacks took it to the Cubs all afternoon but thankfully a majority of the players the Cubs will face seven times over the first month of the season was not on the field Tuesday.
Matt Garza labored through a 23-pitch first inning due to four groundball singles.
A.J. Pollock led off with a single to center on a 0-1 pitch. Kirk Gibson called for a hit and run with Kelly Johnson at the plate. Johnson delivered a single to center and advanced Pollock to third on the play.
Juan Miranda struck out swinging but Miguel Montero singled to left on a 0-1 pitch. Pollock scored … 1-0 Diamondbacks. Xavier Nady loaded the bases with a softly hit grounder up the middle. Jeff Baker kept the ball from leaving the infield … and saved a run.
Garza struck out Ryan Wheeler and David Winfree to end the inning.
The D-Backs threatened again in the second after back-to-back two out singles by Pollock and Johnson but Garza retired Miranda on a fly out to left to end the inning. Garza threw 21 pitches in the second, 16 for strikes.
The Diamondbacks took a 4-0 lead in the third.
After Miguel Montero struck out to start the inning, Xavier Nady blooped a single into right … Wheeler blooped a single into center then David Winfree hit a rocket over the wall in left … 4-0 Arizona. Garza struck out Cody Ransom before surrendering his tenth hit of the game to Joe Saunders … a bloop into left field. Garza struck out Pollock to end the inning.
The Cubs finally got a hit in the bottom of third … and actually took a brief 5-4 lead.
Joe Saunders hit Reed Johnson on a 0-2 pitch. Starlin Castro then doubled down the left field line on a 3-1 offering. Jeff Baker singled in Johnson and Aramis Ramirez singled in Starlin Castro.
Geovany Soto singled to left on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases.
With one out and the Cubs down 4-2, Carlos Pena ripped a double into left center on a 0-2 pitch. Baker, Ramirez and Soto scored and gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Alfonso Soriano popped out (0-for-3 with a strikeout and five left on base) and Tyler Colvin (0-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and four left on base) struck out swinging to end the inning.
The game slowed to a snail’s pace after the bottom of the third.
Arizona sent 11 to the plate in the eight-run fourth and hit three home runs … a Grand Slam by Xavier Nady off Scott Maine on a 3-2 pitch. A solo shot by David Winfree and a three-run jack by Kelly Johnson on a 3-2 pitch. Maine kept falling behind and Arizona kept launching his mistakes out of HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI single by Jeff Baker, a sac fly by Geovany Soto and a bases loaded balk by Joe Paterson with Alfonso Soriano at the plate.
Practice is just about over for Q’s crew … beginning Friday every pitch, every at bat and every inning counts.
Randy Wells will get his work in during the Cubs Intrasquad game at HoHoKam Park Wednesday. The scrimmage begins at 1:00pm CDT. Following the final practice of the spring, the Cubs depart for Chicago. Q’s crew will workout at Wrigley Thursday … and the first pitch of the 2011 season is Friday at 1:20pm CDT.
Ryan Dempster will face Kevin Correia and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day.