Spring Game Twenty-Five – Cubs 6, Indians 2
WP – Rodrigo Lopez (1-0) LP – Jeanmar Gomez (1-1) Save – None
The Cubs got back in the spring win column on Sunday afternoon in Goodyear. Dale Sveum’s offense pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of four miscues by the Indians. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a home run, 3 RBI and a sac fly) launched his sixth homer of the spring in the seventh off Rafael Perez after tying the game in the third with a sac fly. Bryan LaHair (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI) pounded out two more hits and drove in the go ahead run in the third. Joe Mather (2-for-2 with two doubles) reached base in both trips to the plate Sunday and scored the Cubs’ first run. In three consecutive at bats in the third, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair drove in runs.
The Cubs defense stepped up Sunday. Joe Mather made a highlight reel catch to take away extra bases from Asdrubal Cabrera to start the third. Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a RBI) was hitless Sunday but turned in several defensive plays that have caused him problems in the past. The work Castro has put in this spring was apparent Sunday.
Rodrigo Lopez struggled mightily in two of the 4 1/3 innings he pitched. Lopez allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout. Lopez’s final line is much better than he actually pitched.
The Cubs pen did not allow any runs over the final 4 2/3 innings. The pen of James Russell, Blake Parker, Frankie De La Cruz and Alberto Cabrera surrendered only one hit and walked only one batter. Russell (no runs, one hit, no walks or strikeouts) pitched 1 2/3 innings and retired five of the six batters he faced. James Russell has shown improvement every time out this spring and continued that trend on Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs played with more intensity Sunday than in previous games as they prepare for Opening Day … The Cubs put two on in the first but came away empty against Jeanmar Gomez. Reed Johnson (1-2 pitch) singled to center and Blake DeWitt walked (3-1 pitch). Starlin Castro hit a 2-1 pitch to Lonnie Chisenhall that the Indians’ third baseman turned into a 5-3 double play. Alfonso Soriano flied out to center (0-1 pitch) for the third out.
Rodrigo Lopez struggled mightily in the first inning. Jason Kipnis doubled to the left field corner (2-1 pitch) to start the bottom of the first. Asdrubal Cabrera followed and ripped a 1-0 pitch into right field. Lopez walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases with no outs.
Carlos Santana hit a weak grounder to short. Starlin Castro charged the ball and made a strong throw to first. Kipnis scored, 1-0 Indians. Travis Hafner ripped Lopez’s first pitch to LaHair. Cabrera scored and Choo advanced to third as LaHair made the second out. Lopez then issued his second walk of the inning. Casey Kotchman walked but Russ Canzler flied out to right to end the long home half of the first.
Bryan LaHair tapped back to Jeanmar Gomez to start the second. Geovany Soto reached on a tapper back to the mound. Gomez slipped as he fielded the ball, threw low to first and Kotchman could not field the ball. Ian Stewart hit a 2-2 pitch to deep center. Felix Pie caught the ball as Soto tagged from first. Soto ended up at second with the aggressive baserunning. Jeff Baker looked at strike three (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
The Indians did nothing against Rodrigo Lopez in the second.
Joe Mather started the Cubs rally in the third when he ripped the first pitch from Gomez into the left field corner. Reed Johnson blooped Gomez’s first pitch into center. Mather held at third with no outs.
Blake DeWitt walked for the second time in as many at bats to load the bases for Starlin Castro. Castro hit a 0-1 pitch up the first baseline (swinging bunt). Gomez fielded the ball and threw Castro out at first as Mather scored the Cubs’ first run.
For the second time in a week, Alfonso Soriano stepped to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs and hit the first pitch he saw into the outfield. Soriano hit a medium-depth fly to left, Johnson scored and tied the game at two. Blake DeWitt advanced to third on Soriano’s sac fly and scored the Cubs’ third run when Bryan LaHair ripped a 2-1 pitch into left center. Soto struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Rodrigo Lopez sat down the Indians in order in the third … with a lot of help from Hoe Mather and a good catch by Geovany Soto.
Asdrubal Cabrera launched a 2-1 pitch to deep center. Joe Mather ranged back and made a leaping catch as he crashed into the centerfield wall. Choo hit a routine fly to center and Soto caught foul near the third base dugout to end the inning.
After Stewart grounded out to second to start the fourth, Jeff Baker ripped a 2-0 pitch back up and through the box. Joe Mather followed with a double to left (0-2 pitch off a diving Russ Canzler’s glove in left). With runners on second and third with one down, Reed Johnson was hit to load the bases.
Blake DeWitt struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) and Castro hit the first pitch he saw to short. Cabrera flipped to Kipnis to end the inning.
Dave Sappelt took over for Joe Mather in center in the fourth … and Lopez labored through another inning but did not allow any runs.
Travis Hafner started the fourth by ripping a 1-2 pitch into center. Lopez issued his third walk of the game to Casey Kotchman. Russ Canzler flied out to left and Lopez struck out Chisenhall looking on a 2-2 pitch. Felix Pie ripped Lopez’s first pitch into right to load the bases with two outs. Jason Kipnis grounded out to first (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
The Cubs wasted another chance to tack on in the fifth. After Soriano fouled out to Santana to begin the inning, Bryan LaHair hammered a 0-1 pitch from Gomez into right field for a double. Soto hit a grounder to the hole at short, LaHair advanced on the play and held when Ian Stewart walked on four pitches. Baker hit the first pitch to Pie in right center to end the inning.
The Cubs left at least one runner on base in each of the first five innings.
Rodrigo Lopez started the fifth and retired Cabrera on a fly out to left center. Dale Sveum went to his pen at that point and brought in James Russell.
James Russell retired Choo (ground out to second) and Carlos Santana (ground out to short) in order to end the fifth.
The Cubs did nothing against Dan Wheeler in the sixth.
James Russell started the bottom of the sixth while Steve Clevenger (1B), Matt Tolbert (2B), Alfredo Amezaga (SS), Edgar Gonzalez (3B) and Welington Castillo (C) took over in the field.
Russell put together another good inning. Travis Hafner lined a 1-2 pitch into the left field corner, but that was it against Russell in the sixth. Kotchman flied out to deep right, Hafner advanced to third but was stranded when Canzler grounded out to short and Chisenhall fouled out to Gonzalez to end the inning.
The Cubs broke the exhibition game open in the seventh against Rafael Perez.
Alfredo Amezaga led off the seventh with a single to left and trotted home on Alfonso Soriano’s sixth longball of the spring. Soriano launched a 0-1 pitch just over the wall in right center … 5-2 Cubs.
Welington Castillo followed Soriano’s homer with a groundout to the hole at short. Edgar Gonzalez lined a 0-1 pitch into left for a double. After a pitch that ran the count to 2-2 against Matt Tolbert, Carlos Santana tried to pickoff Gonzalez from second. The ball sailed and ended up in center. Gonzalez ran to third and was waived home when Felix Pie bobbled the ball. Gonzalez scored the Cubs’ sixth run … and the Indians were credited with two errors (E2, E8) on the same play. Tolbert reached on the Indians’ third error of the inning, a throwing error by the third baseman but Steve Clevenger hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Indians did nothing against Blake Parker in the bottom of the seventh.
Dave Sappelt and Ty Wright (up from minor league camp for the day) reached on back-to-back singles to left to start the eighth. Nick Hagadone struck out Blake DeWitt swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Alfredo Amezaga put together a long at bat that ended with a fly out to center on a 3-2 pitch. The runners broke on the 3-2 offering. Sappelt ended up being doubled off second to end the inning. Sappelt appeared to lose track of the number of outs.
Frankie De La Cruz issued a two out walk to Travis Hafner but that was it for the Indians in the eighth.
Joe Smith faced the minimum in the top of the ninth after Blake Lalli and Welington Castillo grounded out to short and second respectively. Edgar Gonzalez ripped a 1-2 pitch into right. Felix Pie threw him out at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double for the third out in the ninth.
Alberto Cabrera sat down Cleveland in order in the ninth … exhibition game over.
The Cubs play their fifth and final split squad games on Monday. Paul Maholm will face Tim Stauffer and the Padres in Mesa while Jay Jackson makes his first start of the spring against Ian Kennedy and the D’Backs in Scottsdale.
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