Spring Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 10, Rockies 8
WP – Jeff Samardzija (2-1) LP – Tyler Chatwood (1-2) Save – Manny Corpas (1)
The Chicago Cubs posted their second straight spring win behind a lot of offense and not much pitching from Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs put up three runs in three different innings and scored 10 runs on 13 hits on a day the two teams that matched up in Scottsdale scored a combined 20 runs on 25 hits.
Geovany Soto had a huge day at the plate. Soto was a perfect 3-for-3 in the exhibition game and drove in half of the Cubs’ runs. Soto started Friday’s game with one homer on the spring and finished the day with three. Soto launched two, two-run homers and drove in his fifth run with a single in the fifth that tied the seesaw game at seven.
Bryan LaHair had his best game in the Cactus League on the day that Anthony Rizzo was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. LaHair was 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and his first walk of the spring. Marlon Byrd (2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored) doubled twice in three trips to the plate. Reed Johnson and Darwin Barney each drove in a run and Joe Mather doubled in his only plate appearance and scored the Cubs’ tenth run.
A Rockies offense without Troy Tulowitzki or Todd Helton pounded Jeff Samardzija during his four innings of work. Samardzija had, by far, his worst outing of the spring. The Cubs’ starter allowed seven runs on 10 hits without a walk and struck out two. Carlos Gonzalez was a thorn in Samardzija’s side. Gonzalez drove in five of the seven runs on a two-out bases clearing double in the second and on a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.
Casey Coleman allowed one unearned run on two hits over three innings and Manny Corpas picked up his first spring save with a perfect ninth against his old team.
The Cubs played by both National League and American League rules on Friday afternoon. Jeff Samardzija hit in the ninth spot of the lineup and went 1-for-2 with a RBI single in the fourth. When Samardzija was lifted after four, Dale Sveum inserted Jeff Baker into the ninth spot as the Cubs’ designated hitter.
Welcome to the dog days of Spring Training …
Jeff Samardzija was not as fortunate in the bottom of the first and allowed the Rockies to jump out to an early lead. Samardzija retired Fowler on a pop out to shallow left but gave up a single to Jonathan Herrera. Carlos Gonzalez hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice and the Cubs inability to turn the double play cost their pitcher a run. Jason Giambi hit Samardzija’s first pitch down the right field line. Gonzalez scored from first, 1-0 Rockies. Samardzija struck out Michael Cuddyer to end the inning … but the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a long afternoon for Jeff Samardzija.
Bryan LaHair worked a walk to start the second (3-2 pitch), his first free pass of the spring. Geovany Soto stepped in and launched a 2-2 pitch from Chatwood over the wall in left … and just like that the Cubs were up 2-1.
Marlon Byrd followed Soto’s blast with a hustle double to right (1-2 pitch). Reed Johnson tapped back to Chatwood but Byrd beat the throw to third. With runners on first and third with no outs, Darwin Barney hit into a 6-3 double play. Byrd scored, 3-1 Cubs. Samardzija struck out swinging to end the inning.
The bottom of the second began with Chris Nelson hitting his first homer of the spring. Nelson’s solo shot off Samardzija cut the Cubs’ lead to 3-2.
Ramon Hernandez reached on an infield single to short (3-2) following Nelson’s homer. Starlin Castro tried to barehand the slow roller and could not record the out. Casey Blake followed with his first hit of the spring, a liner to center on a 2-2 pitch. The Rockies put runners on first and second with no outs for Tyler Colvin.
Tyler Colvin popped out to Soto (halfway up the first base line). Samardzija jammed him on a 0-2 pitch. Dexter Fowler reached on an infield single to LaHair. LaHair knocked the ball down but could not throw to Samardzija in time … and the bases were loaded with one down. Herrera fouled out to Stewart for the second out.
Carlos Gonzalez cleared the bases with a double to left center … 5-3 Rockies. Giambi flied out to center but the Rockies put four on the board against Samardzija in the second.
The Cubs did nothing against Tyler Chatwood in the third … and Samardzija sat down Colorado in order in the home half of the third.
Bryan LaHair led off the fourth with a single to right (3-2 pitch) and trotted home on Geovany Soto’s second two-run homer of the day. Soto crushed Chatwood’s first pitch and tied the game at five.
Marlon Byrd reached on his second hustle double of the game … but Reed Johnson grounded out to short and Darwin Barney flied out to right.
With two outs and the game knotted at five, Jeff Samardzija stepped in and singled to center. Byrd scored, 6-5 Cubs. DeJesus grounded out to first for the third out.
The Rockies took the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth. Blake and Colvin reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning. Dexter Fowler then dropped down a bunt. Soto’s throw to third was late and the Rockies loaded the bases with no outs. Herrera hit a tapper back to Samardzija that was turned into a 1-2-3 double play … but Carlos Gonzalez delivered a single to right that plated Blake and Colvin from second and third. Giambi lined out to Barney for the final out.
Jeff Samardzija left the mound trailing 7-6 after he allowed seven runs on 10 hits in four innings.
After Ian Stewart flied out to left center to start the fifth, Starlin Castro singled to center on a 3-2 pitch. LaHair followed with a single to right. Castro advanced to third with one out. Geovany Soto plated Castro with the Cubs seventh run. Soto singled to left on a 1-2 pitch and ended Chatwood’s afternoon.
Josh Outman took over but the Cubs loaded the bases when Nelson misplayed a grounder off the bat of Marlon Byrd. Reed Johnson worked a walk and forced in LaHair with the go ahead run. With the bases loaded and one down, Barney hit a grounder to third that the Rockies turned into a 5-4 fielder’s choice. Soto scored and the Cubs took a 9-7 lead. Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija (stayed in as the DH) and was called out on a check swing to end the inning.
Esmailin Caridad made his third appearance in the Cactus League and did not allow the Rockies to score after he issued a leadoff walk to Michael Cuddyer. Caridad retired Nelson on a lineout to center and struck out Ramon Hernandez and Casey Blake swinging for the last two outs in the fifth.
After five complete, the Cubs led 9-7.
David DeJesus led off the sixth with a double off the wall in left center. Stewart fouled out to first and before the first pitch to Castro, Outman picked DeJesus off second. Castro struck out swinging for the third out.
Dale Sveum made a host of changes before the bottom of the sixth. Casey Coleman replaced Caridad while Steve Clevenger (C), Ty Wright (RF), Dave Sappelt (CF), Joe Mather (3B) and Alfredo Amezaga (2B) took over in the field. Ty Wright spent the day with the big league team.
Tyler Colvin greeted Casey Coleman by launching his first pitch into centerfield. Colvin ended up at second but was stranded after Coleman sat down the next three batters he faced to end the sixth.
Bryan LaHair led off the seventh with a double to center off new Rockies’ pitcher, Stephen Dodson. Steve Clevenger followed with a single. With runners on first and third, Dave Sappelt popped out to shallow center for the first out … and Reed Johnson hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Rockies scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh. Eric Young, Jr. led off with a single to right. Coleman struck out Andrew Brown swinging (foul tip). Young swiped second on the 1-2 offering to Brown and scored on Starlin Castro’s throwing error. Brendan Harris hit a roller to short and Castro’s throw to first was low. LaHair could not scoop. Wil Nieves grounded into a 1-4-3 double play that ended the seventh.
The Cubs got the run right back in the top of the eighth. Joe Mather led off with a double to left center. Baker struck out looking. With Ty Wright at the plate, Rex Brothers uncorked a wild pitch (changed to a passed ball on Nieves) that allowed Mather to advance to third. With the infield in, Wright hit a grounder to short that went under the shortstop’s glove and into left. Mather scored … 10-8 Cubs. Amezaga grounded out to third and Castro flied out to right to end the top of the eighth.
Casey Coleman retired the Rockies in order in the eighth.
The Cubs did nothing in the ninth against Edgmer Escalona.
Manny Corpas sat down Colorado in order in the ninth … game over.
The Cubs host Jed Hoyer’s old team Saturday afternoon. Travis Wood is scheduled to face the Padres’ Anthony Bass.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO