Spring Training Game Four – Cubs 5 Brewers 12
WP – Yovani Gallardo (1-0) LP – Carlos Silva (0-1) Save – None
Wednesday was a beautiful day for baseball that soon turned ugly for the Chicago Cubs … both on the field and in the dugout.
The game started on a positive note. Kosuke Fukudome (1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored) led off with a walk and scored on the Cubs’ first home run of the spring … a two-run shot to left center off the bat of Starlin Castro (2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI). Castro worked the count and drove the ball with authority against one of the best young pitchers in the NL in Yovani Gallardo. But the feel-good start did not last long.
Carlos Silva took the hill in the bottom of the first and it all went downhill from there. Silva was horrible and the defense behind him was worse. Silva walked Craig Counsell to start the game then served up a two-run homer to Luis Cruz on the first pitch of the at bat.
Silva retired Ryan Braun before the Cubs defense fell apart. Prince Fielder reached second on a pop up into shallow left that clanked off Aramis Ramirez’s glove. Prince hustled into second and scored on the first of two home runs on the day by Casey McGehee.
Casey McGehee (3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI) continues sticking to the team that never gave him a shot.
The Cubs defense committed two more errors in the first to run their spring total to 12, at the time. Silva ended up allowing six runs, three earned, on three hits with a walk in his inning of work. Silva labored through the 34-pitch inning (19 strikes) as the Brewers batted around.
After the inning, Silva reportedly exploded in the dugout and exchanged words with Aramis Ramirez. Silva’s day was over … and so were the Cubs. Silva took the long walk across the field to the Cubs’ bus as Jay Jackson jogged in from the bullpen.
The Cubs played another sloppy game and had trouble throwing strikes. The “defense” and that word should be used loosely, committed five more errors to run their spring total to 14. 14 errors in four games and there could have been more.
Q’s crew appears lackadaisical on the field. And while it is “only” Spring Training, the three teams the Cubs have faced seem a lot more focused on using the exhibition games as a tune-up for the regular season.
Following Starlin Castro’s home run, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez grounded out to short and Carlos Pena struck out swinging to end the inning … the Brewers once again shifted for Pena.
Carlos Silva walked Craig Counsell on five pitches to start his outing. Silva grooved a fastball to Luis Cruz and Cruz deposited Silva’s first pitch over the wall in left. Silva appeared to right himself and jammed Ryan Braun on a 0-1 pitch. Braun tapped back to Silva for the first out.
Silva quickly fell behind Prince Fielder 3-0. Fielder popped Silva’s next offering into shallow left. Aramis Ramirez ran over and positioned himself to make the catch but the ball hit off his glove and fell to the ground. Fielder hustled to second on the first error of the inning … the Cubs’ tenth of the spring.
Silva jumped ahead of Casey McGehee 1-2 before leaving a fastball up that McGehee deposited well over the wall in left center. McGehee’s bomb gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead.
George Kottaras reached on a error by Starlin Castro … the second of the inning and 11th for the Cubs this spring. Kottaras hit a routine grounder to Castro that he simply bobbled.
The third error came courtesy of Koyie Hill, which allowed Chris Dickerson to reach. Dickerson hit a 3-2 pitch to Castro and was out by a mile at first but the homeplate ump called catcher’s interference … and the inning continued.
Brandon Boggs blooped Silva’s first offering into left center, Kottaras scored … 5-2 Brewers. Erick Almonte then grounded out to short, Boggs advanced to second and Dickerson scored the Brewers’ sixth run on the play.
Craig Counsell grounded out to first to end the inning.
Carlos Silva went into the dugout and started yelling at a player. Aramis Ramirez jumped in and the two were separated. Silva was done for the day after six runs and 34 pitches.
Jay Jackson continued to be impressive Wednesday. He came in for Silva and sat down the top of the Brewers’ lineup in order on just five pitches … all for strikes.
The Cubs went down in order in the top of the third before James Russell took the hill.
Russell struggled in his first outing of the spring and ended up allowing three runs on five hits with two strikeouts in two innings of work. Russell struggled with his command, especially against right-handed hitters.
Casey McGehee led off the third with his second long home run of the game. Russell fell behind 2-1 before serving up the dinger.
Kottaras flied out to left but lefty Chris Dickerson singled to center on a 1-2 pitch. Russell picked Dickerson off first but Brandon Boggs reached on Aramis Ramirez’s second error of the game … fourth for the Cubs and 13th of the spring.
Ramirez tried to backhand the routine grounder instead of getting in front of the ball. Ramirez had time to play the ball the right way. With Almonte at the plate, Boggs stole second. Russell struck out Almonte swinging on a nice changeup to end the inning. Russell threw 24 pitches in the third, 15 for strikes.
With the Cubs down 7-2, Aramis Ramirez reached on a one-out single in the fourth. Carlos Pena singled through the shift into right center. Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging.
Blake DeWitt was hit in the shoulder to load the bases for Koyie Hill … but the Cubs’ backup catcher struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
James Russell labored through the fifth inning and gave up two more runs. Russell threw 17 pitches, 12 for strikes, and was torched by McGehee again. Luis Cruz reached on a single to left. Ryan Braun lined a hard single into right. Kosuke Fukudome threw to third and not only was his throw late but it was well off the mark. Braun ended up at second on the play.
The Cubs shifted for Fielder and he grounded out to DeWitt in shallow right. Cruz scored, 8-2. McGehee made it 9-2 with a single to left on a 1-0 pitch from Russell. Kottaras fouled out to Hill to end the inning.
The Cubs made it 9-3 in the fifth. Kosuke Fukudome singled to right center on a 3-2 pitch. Starlin Castro followed with a double into right center that rolled all the way to the wall. Fukudome barely scored from first. Marlon Byrd walked but Aramis Ramirez lined out to left and Carlos Pena grounded out to first to end the inning.
Mike Quade made wholesale changes in the bottom of the fifth.
Scott Rice did his job and kept the Brewers off the scoreboard … but struggled with his command.
Alfonso Soriano led off the sixth with his first dinger of the spring … a solo shot to right center. Blake DeWitt singled to left but Koyie Hill grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Robert Coello made his spring debut in the sixth with mixed results. Coello gave up a run on two hits with two strikeouts but he threw strikes and kept the ball down. It appears Coello throws a heavy sinker, which could work well at Wrigley. Coello threw 14 pitches in the sixth, 10 for strikes.
Kyle Smit also made his spring debut Wednesday and Smit could not throw strikes. Smit labored through his inning of work and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk. Smit threw 23 pitches, 10 for strikes. Matt Camp committed the Cubs’ fifth error of the game in the seventh, which did not help Smit to get off to a good start.
Jeff Samardzija made his second appearance of the spring Wednesday. Samardzija gave up a hit and threw 12 pitches, eight for strikes.
Brad Snyder made it 12-5 with a long homer over the wall in right. Before Snyder’s blast, the Cubs had made more errors than the runs they scored.
The final score of a Spring Training game is irrelevant but execution and preparation does matter. The Cubs do not appear to be concerned with either right now.
The Cubs return to HoHoKam Park Thursday to face the Texas Rangers. Carlos Zambrano will get his second start and Braden Looper is expected to make his spring debut.