Spring Training Game Seventeen – Cubs (ss) 4 Dodgers (ss) 3 – 10 innings
WP – Jeff Stevens (1-0) LP – Michael Antonini (0-1) Save – None
Spring Training Game Eighteen – Cubs (ss) 7 Diamondbacks 5
WP – Braden Looper (1-0) LP – Daniel Hudson (1-1) Save – None
After dropping both split squad games Saturday, Q’s crews in Las Vegas and Scottsdale won on Sunday. A solid effort by Braden Looper and the second home run by Carlos Pena in three games led the Cubs to victory in Scottsdale.
Carlos Zambrano had a good outing in Las Vegas. Big Z even doubled and scored on another hit by Starlin Castro. Jeff Baker delivered the game winner with two outs in the 10th in Las Vegas, a single to left that gave the Cubs the win.
Carlos Zambrano completed five strong innings in Vegas. Z was sharp, threw strikes and allowed only one run on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Zambrano even got into the act offensively. Z doubled and scored the tying run in the fifth on a hustle-double by Starlin Castro (3-for-3 with a double, a stolen base and a RBI).
Steve Clevenger put together a two-hit day in relief of Koyie Hill in the game in Vegas. Clevenger singled in the 10th and scored the winning run on Jeff Baker’s single. Clevenger also showed off his defensive skills behind the plate in front of the Cubs’ brass.
Braden Looper and Carlos Pena were the difference in Scottsdale. Looper allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 3 2/3 innings. Looper also contributed with the bat. Looper finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, a run scored and a RBI.
Carlos Pena hit his second home run in three games. Pena was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run and a RBI. Pena also helped the Cubs defense turn five double plays at the new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Park.
Fernando Perez walked twice, drove in a run and scored a run in five trips to the plate.
For as good as the defense was in Scottsdale, the Cubs two squads committed three more errors on Sunday.
Carlos Zambrano gave up two of his six hits in the first inning … but faced the minimum. Rafael Furcal led off with a single to left. Xavier Paul attempted to sacrifice Furcal to second but popped the bunt up to Zambrano for the first out.
With James Loney at the plate, Z picked Furcal off first. Loney ended up blooping a single into left center. Castro and Soriano tried to get to the ball but it fell to the ground. Soriano kicked it slightly before picking it up and throwing a strike to DeWitt at second base. Loney was called out to end the inning.
Zambrano threw six pitches in the first, four for strikes.
The Cubs went quietly in the first. Starlin Castro reached on a single and stole second but was stranded when Alfonso Soriano fouled out to first.
Zambrano was sharp again in the second. He surrendered a hit but no runs and threw only 12 pitches, nine for strikes.
Big Z retired the Dodgers in order in the third on six pitches, all strikes. The Dodgers managed other hit in the fourth but no runs. Zambrano threw 15 pitches, 11 for strikes.
The Dodgers finally broke through in the fifth … and it all started on a two-out walk.
Rod Barajas worked a two-out walk and advanced to second on a bloop single to left off the bat of Aaron Miles. Rafael Furcal lined a single to right on Z’s first pitch. Kosuke threw to the plate but was off the mark. Barajas scored … 1-0 Dodgers. Both runners advanced on the throw to the plate.
Z struck out Xavier Paul swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the fifth … and his outing. Zambrano threw 25 pitches in the fifth, 15 for strikes.
After Koyie Hill popped out to start the bottom of the fifth, Zambrano stayed in to get an at bat from the right side. Z doubled down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch and flipped his helmet off as he rounded first.
Z advanced to third on a ground out to second by Fukudome. Starlin Castro stepped in and ripped a single back up the middle. Z scored as the ball went off Eugenio Velez’s glove. Castro kept running and was given credit for a double. Castro hustled out of the box, which is a great sign.
Alberto Cabrera took over in the sixth and kept the Dodgers off the board.
Scott Rice and Kyle Smit showed why they will start the year at Triple-A in the seventh. Rice could not find the strike zone again. Rice ended up walking two and surrendering a run on a hit in 2/3 of an inning of work. Rice struggled mightily with his command. Smit replaced Rice and uncorked a wild pitch, on his first offering, that allowed the Dodgers to score the go ahead run.
Marquez Smith, who had both a good day and a horrible day in the field, led off the seventh with a single to left. After Koyie Hill failed to get a bunt down, he ended up popping out to center. Jeff Baker hit for Smit and reached on an infield single to the hole at short.
Kosuke Fukudome ripped lefty David Pfeiffer’s first pitch into right for a double. Smith scored the tying run. Pfeiffer uncorked a wild pitch with Matt Camp at the plate that allowed Baker to score the go ahead run. After seven, the Cubs held a 3-2 lead.
Chris Carpenter took over in the eight … and gave up the lead to the first batter he faced. Hector Gimenez launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right, game tied at three.
Carpenter settled down after the longball. He gave up a double to Jerry Sands but hit the mid 90s on his fastball and had good location. Carpenter threw 26 pitches in the eighth, 15 for strikes.
Jeff Samardzija took over in the ninth with the game tied at three … and was horrible. Samardzija gave Steve Clevenger a workout behind the plate. Samardzija did not allow any runs but struggled with his command. Samardzija struck out two but walked two and left with the bases loaded.
Jeff Stevens came in and struck out Matt Kemp swinging to end the ninth. Stevens was solid in the 10th as well. He gave up a two-out single on a 0-2 pitch but struck out a pair in his 1 1/3 innings of work.
Steve Clevenger led off the 10th with a single to center. Tony Campana flied out but Marquez Smith (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) singled to center. Max Ramirez pinch-hit for Jeff Stevens and hit a weak grounder to Dee Gordon at short. Gordon was unable to turn two and settled for the sure out at first.
Jeff Baker lined the first pitch he saw into left for the game winner (Baker recorded two hits off right-handed pitching Sunday).
Tyler Colvin played the entire game at first and turned in a good performance in the field.
Spring Training Game Eighteen – Cubs (ss) 7 Diamondbacks 5 – in Scottsdale
The game in Scottsdale was not as close as the final score indicates. Josh Vitters committed a couple of blunders in the ninth that allowed the inning to continue. Vitters was given an error on a ball that went under his legs but he could not start an around the horn double play that would have ended the game. The D’Backs scored three runs off Scott Maine after the game should have been over.
Braden Looper put together a good outing against the Diamondbacks. Looper faced the minimum in the first after Justin Upton hit into the first of five double plays to end the inning. Looper threw 18 pitches, nine for strikes.
The D’Backs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Russell Branyan led off with a single to right. Chris Young doubled to left and Ryan Roberts singled to center with one out. Branyan scored … 1-0 D-Backs.
Looper settled down and retired Henry Blanco and Daniel Hudson to end the inning. Looper threw 25 pitches in the second, 19 for strikes.
Braden Looper broke up Hudson’s no-hit bid with a two-out single to right center. Fernando Perez walked ahead of Darwin Barney’s ground-rule double to left. The ball hit the track and jumped over the sidewall. Looper scored and tied the game at one.
With runners on second and third with two outs, Marlon Byrd reached on a ball hit to the hole at short. The ball went off Ryan Roberts glove to Stephen Drew at short and was ruled a hit (later changed to an error). Perez scored and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Aramis Ramirez flied out to center to end the inning.
Looper gave up a one-out single to Kelly Johnson in the third but did not allow any runs. Looper threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes.
The Cubs took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on Carlos Pena’s second homer of the spring.
Geovany Soto then reached third on an error by Brandon Allen. Soto hustled around the bases and scored on a two-out double to right center by Braden Looper.
The Cubs led 4-1 after three and a half.
Looper retired the two batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth on 13 pitches, nine for strikes. Looper handed the ball off to Jay Jackson.
Brandon Allen made it 4-2 with a home run to right center off Jay Jackson. Jackson struck out Ryan Roberts swinging to end the fourth.
The Cubs tacked on a pair in the sixth. Carlos Pena and Geovany Soto reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning. Bobby Scales then loaded the bases with a single to right. James Adduci hit back to Carlos Rosa. The D-Backs pitcher fumbled the ball, every one was safe and Pena scored on the play … 5-2 Cubs.
Jay Jackson struck out but Fernando Perez worked a bases loaded walk that forced in Soto from third … 6-2 Cubs.
Darwin Barney hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
Kerry Wood faced the minimum in the seventh after the Cubs defense turned the third double play (at the time). Wood threw 11 pitches, six for strikes.
The Cubs’ minor leaguers added a run in the top of the eighth. Bobby Scales worked a one-out walk and James Adduci was hit by a pitch. Junior Lake hit for Kerry Wood and delivered a single to left that plated Bobby Scales … 7-2 Cubs.
The D-Backs scored three in the ninth off Scott Maine … but Josh Vitters’ defensive blunders led to all three runs off the lefty.
Several Cubs’ prospects appeared in the game against the Diamondbacks … Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Marwin Gonzalez, Rebel Ridling and Michael Burgess.
Q’s crew showed improvement in both games Sunday. With that said, the way this group of guys plays in the field it constantly feels like one step forward, two steps back.
Matt Garza and the Cubs will travel to Peoria Monday to face David Fister and the Mariners.