A Spring Slugfest – Cubs 11, Padres 12

Spring Game Thirty – Cubs 11, Padres 12
WP – Luke Gregerson (1-1) LP – Alberto Cabrera (1-2, BS 2) Save – Brad Brach (2)

Thursday was anything but a quiet day for the Chicago Cubs. Not only did they announce 10 spring roster cuts that included optioning Randy Wells, Welington Castillo, Scott Maine, Travis Wood, Casey Coleman and Dave Sappelt to Triple-A Iowa. Jed Hoyer made it official that Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather will be part of the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Then there was the announcement that Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad will slot in behind Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza in the Cubs Opening Day rotation.

After all of the roster moves quieted down, the Cubs announced they had received the PTBNL from Boston to complete the Theo Epstein compensation. The Cubs received 19-year old first base prospect, Jair Bogaerts.

Then it was time to play an exhibition game on the final Thursday of the Cactus League schedule.

What looked like in the first inning would be a pitcher’s duel turned out to be a slugfest with the newly named fourth starter in the Cubs rotation putting together his worst outing of the spring.

The Cubs offense staked Chris Volstad (six runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings; 75 pitches, 49 for strikes) to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second but by the end of the third Volstad had allowed six runs and the Cubs found themselves looking up at Clayton Richard and the Padres. Richard was equally as bad as Volstad on Thursday and the Cubs built an 11-6 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.

Shawn Camp (three runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings) did not help his cause to make the roster. Camp allowed the Padres to creep back into the game and Alberto Cabrera, up from minor league camp for the day, had little to no command and gave up the lead in the eighth.

Kerry Wood made his first appearance since March 18 against the White Sox and struck out the only batter he faced.

The Cubs’ offense did their job and put a four-spot on the board twice and scored in four of the nine innings … plus Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson even hit back-to-back jacks in the fifth.

Darwin Barney (4-for-4 with a double and a RBI), Jeff Baker (2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three runs scored), Reed Johnson (2-for-4 with a home run), Joe Mather (2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a RBI and three runs scored), Blake DeWitt (2-for-3 with a walk, HBP, a RBI and three runs scored), Chris Volstad (1-for-1 with two RBI and two sacrifice bunts) and Geovany Soto (2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk and a run scored) did their part in the exhibition game.

The Cubs and Padres scored a combined 23 runs on 34 hits … and in the end it was just one of those days for both teams in the Cactus League.

Darwin Barney led off the game with a single to center but was thrown out when Marlon Byrd swung at and missed a 3-2 offering from Clayton Richard. With the bases empty, Starlin Castro grounded out to third to end the first.

Chris Volstad made quick work of the Padres in the first. Volstad retired San Diego in order on just nine pitches.

Jeff Baker reached on an error by Jason Bartlett to start the second. Reed Johnson followed with a single. Baker advanced to third on a 1-2 offering to Joe Mather. The pitch was in the dirt, Baker read it and advanced … and it led to a run.

Mather grounded out to third (2-2 pitch). Baker scored from first as Reed Johnson was forced at second. With Mather at first, Geovany Soto walked. Blake DeWitt singled to right on a 3-2 pitch. Mather scored and the Cubs took a 2-0 lead. Chris Volstad stepped to the plate and tried to drop down a bunt on Richard’s first two offerings. The third pitch went off Nick Hundley’s glove and the passed ball allowed DeWitt to move up ninety feet.

Bud Black brought his infield in with runners on second and third with one out. Volstad singled to center on a 2-2 pitch. Soto and DeWitt scored, 4-0 Cubs. Barney singled to center and Byrd blooped a single into left to load the bases with one out. Starlin Castro hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

Volstad retired Nick Hundley and Chris Denorfia to start the second but James Darnell reached on a single to right. Jason Bartlett followed and cut the Cubs’ lead in half. Bartlett hit a two-run shot over the wall in left center. Volstad retired Cabrera on a grounder to short to end the second … but the writing was on the wall it was going to be a long afternoon.

Other than a two-out double by Joe Mather, the Cubs did nothing against Clayton Richard in the third.

The Padres’ lefty led off the bottom of the third with a single to right. Will Venable followed with a single to left … and the Padres had runners on first and second with no outs. Mark Kotsay popped out to second (infield fly rule) and Yonder Alonso fouled out to Joe Mather (Mather reached over the barrier and into the crowd to make the catch down the third base line.)

Nick Hundley tied the game with more two out damage against Chris Volstad. Hundley launched a 1-1 pitch over Byrd’s head in center. Denorfia followed with a double and just like that the Padres took a 5-4 lead. Darnell singled in Denorfia with the Padres sixth run.

Jason Bartlett singled to center to put runners on second and third with two outs. After a visit from Chris Bosio, Volstad retired Cabrera on a grounder to second for the last out in the third.

The Cubs cut into the Padres lead in the fourth. Blake DeWitt was plunked on Richard’s first pitch of the inning. Volstad sacrificed DeWitt to second and Barney reached on an infield single to short. Marlon Byrd hit a 2-1 pitch into center. DeWitt tagged and scored, 6-5 Padres. Castro flied out to left (2-1 pitch) to end the inning.

Chris Volstad rebounded from his bad third inning and kept the Padres off the board in the bottom of the fourth. Volstad retired Clayton Richard and Will Venable to start the inning. Kotsay singled to center (1-2) but Soto threw him out at second to end the inning. Kotsay broke on a ball in the dirt (2-2 pitch to Alonso).

Jeff Baker hit Richard’s first pitch in the fifth over the wall in left. Baker’s first homer of the spring tied the game at six. Reed Johnson hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left … and the back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs a 7-6 lead.

Joe Mather followed the homers with a single and scored on Geovany Soto’s double off the centerfield wall. DeWitt hit a grounder to first. Alonso threw across the diamond and nailed Soto at third. Bud Black went to his pen and brought in Ernesto Frieri to face Chris Volstad. Volstad dropped down the bunt, DeWitt ended up at second and scored on a doubled to left center off the bat of Darwin Barney … 9-6 Cubs. Byrd struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Chris Volstad took the hill to start the fifth and retired Yonder Alonso on a fly out to left. Nick Hundley ripped a 3-1 pitch into left. Volstad ended his day by striking out Chris Denorfia swinging.

Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in Kerry Wood to face James Darnell. Wood struck out Darnell swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on to their lead in the sixth. After Castro fouled out to first to start the sixth, Jeff Baker ripped a 1-1 pitch into the right field corner for a double. Reed Johnson flied out to center. Joe Mather walked … and both Baker and Mather scored on a double to right off the bat of Geovany Soto. DeWitt walked and Tony Campana hit for Kerry Wood. Campana grounded out to second to end the inning.

Dale Sveum went to his bench and back to the pen in the sixth. Shawn Camp took over on the hill while Tony Campana (LF), Alfredo Amezaga (2B), Justin Bour (1B) and Steve Clevenger (C) replaced the starters. Bour spent the day up from minor league camp.

Shawn Camp retired Bartlett on a grounder to short but walked the eighth place hitter, Everth Cabrera. Bud Black went to his bench and sent up Jesus Guzman to hit for Ernesto Frieri. Guzman launched a homer over the wall in center and cut the Cubs’ lead to 11-8 Camp struck out Will Venable (swinging) but gave up a two-out single to Kotsay. Camp retired Alonso on a pop out to first for the last out in the bottom of the sixth.

After six complete, the Cubs led 11-8.

Starlin Castro finally got into the hit parade in the seventh. Castro singled to center with one down but Joe Thatcher picked him off first (1-3-6) to end the inning.

Ty Wright, up from minor league camp for the day, entered the game in the seventh. Wright took over in left and Campana moved to center.

The Padres scored another run in the seventh off Shawn Camp. Jaff Decker singled to right on Camp’s first pitch of the inning. Camp jumped ahead of Matt Clark 0-2 before giving up a single to right on a 3-2 pitch. Darnell hit a grounder to the hole at short that Castro fielded and threw to second. Amezaga dropped the ball, Castro was given an error and Decker scored on the play … 11-9 Cubs.

Kyung-Min Na, acquired from the Cubs in the Anthony Rizzo deal, ran for Darnell at first. Andy Parrino bunted back to Camp, the right-hander threw to third and forced Clark for the first out of the inning.

Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in Alberto Cabrera. Everth Cabrera lined into a 7-4 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Luke Gregerson in the eighth.

Alberto Cabrera was all over the place in the bottom of the eighth. Cabrera uncorked a wild pitch, advanced a runner to second on a pickoff attempt and ended up allowing three runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.

With the Cubs down 12-11 in the top of the ninth, Blake DeWitt reached on a one out single to right. Campana hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice but stole second with Amezaga at the plate. Amezaga flied out to left for the final out of the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster makes his final start of the spring Friday afternoon when the Cubs host a Dodgers’ split squad. Fernando Nieve is expected to start the game for Los Angeles.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth