Cubs Pitching Steps Up in the Split Squads – Cubs 2, Padres 0 – Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 3

Spring Game Twenty-Six – Cubs (SS) 2, Padres 0
WP – Paul Maholm (1-1 LP – Tim Stauffer (1-2 Save – Rafael Dolis (2)

Spring Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs (SS) 2, Diamondbacks 3
WP – Ian Kennedy (2-2) LP – Jay Jackson (1-1) Save – J.J. Putz (1)

The Cubs played their fifth and final split squad day and the story in both games was the pitching. Paul Maholm put together an excellent five inning start against the Padres and set the tone for the afternoon in Mesa. Jay Jackson gave up all three runs that the Cubs surrendered to what was likely Arizona’s Opening Day lineup in Scottsdale.

In Mesa, Paul Maholm put together his best outing of the spring and the Cubs ended up notching their first shutout of the spring. Maholm surrendered just four hits with a pair of walks and struck out six in five innings … and doubled in the fourth (Maholm was 1-for-2 on the afternoon) Carlos Marmol returned from his nearly weak long absence and allowed a hit with a walk and a strikeout in his inning of work. Casey Coleman allowed just one runner to reach over two innings and Rafael Dolis picked up his second spring save with a solid ninth.

The Cubs offense managed only seven hits and scored both of their runs in the first and second inning. Reed Johnson (1-for-4 with a RBI), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a double, a stolen base, a walk and a run scored), Bryan LaHair (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) and Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored) supplied the offense against the Padres.

In Scottsdale, Jay Jackson gave up single runs in the first, third and fourth innings and ended up taking the spring loss after allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings. Scott Maine walked two in his inning of work but did not allow any runs while Manny Corpas stuck out the side in the eighth. Both Maine and Corpas stayed in the mix for a bullpen spot with their performances on Monday.

Ian Kennedy dominated the Cubs’ offense for seven innings. The Cubs tried to mount a comeback late but fell short. Blake DeWitt (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) and Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) supplied three of the Cubs seven hits … and the Cubs other run was driven in by Micah Gibbs (1-for-1 with a RBI) in the eighth.

Spring Game Twenty-Six – Cubs (SS) 2, Padres 0
Paul Maholm’s day started by giving up a single to Will Venable on a 2-1 pitch. Maholm then retired the next three batters he faced to end the first inning. Maholm struck out Nick Hundley swinging (2-2 pitch) and Matt Clark looking (3-2 pitch) for the last two outs in the opening inning.

After Reed Johnson struck out swinging and Darwin Barney (1-2 pitch) lined back to Tim Stauffer, Starlin Castro worked his first free pass of the spring. On a 1-0 pitch to LaHair, Castro stole second and put himself into scoring position with two outs.

Bryan LaHair stayed hot and hit a double to right center (one-hopped the wall). Castro scored, 1-0 Cubs. Geovany Soto struck out swinging for the third out.

James Darnell lined out to Jeff Baker in right to start the second. Jaff Decker followed with a triple to left center (1-2) past Reed Johnson. Johnson took a bad route to the ball and it skipped past him to the wall. Maholm kept the ball down and induced a grounder to third off the bat of Everth Cabrera. Decker held at third. Maholm wanted to have nothing to do with Andy Parrino and walked him on four pitches. Tim Stauffer grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on a run in the bottom of the second after Jeff Baker led off with his first of two doubles on the afternoon (right center). Edgar Gonzalez popped out to second for the first out. Tony Campana hit a grounder up the middle that Cabrera fielded. Knowing Campana was running, Cabrera threw behind Baker at third. Baker dove back and the Cubs had runners on first and third with one out for Paul Maholm.

The bunting tournament did not pay off, Maholm popped up a bunt attempt and fouled out to Nick Hundley.

Reed Johnson stepped in and with Tony Campana running, ripped a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. Baker scored, Campana ended up at third. After Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two down, Starlin Castro worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to center to end the inning.

After two, the Cubs led 2-0.

Maholm retired Will Venable to start the third but Chris Denorfia doubled down the third baseline. Maholm walked Hundley then struck out Matt Clark looking (2-2 pitch) and James Darnell swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Other than a two-out double to left center off the bat of Jeff Baker, the Cubs did nothing against Tim Stauffer in the bottom of the third.

Paul Maholm sat down the Padres in order in the fourth.

Paul Maholm doubled to right with one out in the fourth … but Reed Johnson flied out to right and Darwin Barney lined out to third to end the fourth.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Maholm in the fifth. Maholm ended up facing the minimum after striking out Tim Stauffer for the first out. Will Venable tried to stretch a single into a double but was thrown out at second by Tony Campana. Maholm’s day ended with Chris Denorfia lining out to center.

Starlin Castro led off the fifth with a hustle double to left center. LaHair grounded out to second, Castro advanced to third with one down. With the infield in, Geovany Soto grounded out to short … and with the infield back, Baker grounded out to short for the third out.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen in the sixth. Marmol threw strikes on Monday. Nick Hundley tapped back to Marmol (1-2 pitch) for the first out. Matt Clark hit a roller up the first base line that hit the bag and ended up in right field. James Darnell looked at strike three and Jaff Decker took a 3-2 pitch for a walk. Cabrera grounded out to short (1-2 pitch) to end the sixth.

The Cubs did nothing against Brad Brach in the sixth. Brach struck out the side.

Casey Coleman took the hill in the seventh with Matt Tolbert (3B) taking over for Edgar Gonzalez.

Coleman sat down the Padres in order in the seventh.

The Cubs did nothing against Ernesto Frieri in the seventh … at the time Padres pitching had retired nine in a row.

Matt Szczur (CF), Nate Samson (2B) and Nelson Perez (RF) took over for the starters in the top of the eighth and Casey Coleman stayed in the game.

Coleman gave up a one-out single to Jonathan Galvez … but that was all for the Padres in the eighth.

Other than a two-out walk by Nelson Perez, the Cubs did nothing against Jason Ray in the bottom of the eighth.

Rafael Dolis actually retired the first three batters he faced in the ninth. Everett Williams swung at and missed what should have been a game ending third strike. But the ball got past Geovany Soto. Williams reached first and advanced to second when Dolis walked Yasmani Grandal on four pitches. Dolis retired Vincent Belnome on a grounder to second to finally end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Spring Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs (SS) 2, Diamondbacks 3
The Cubs went down in order against Ian Kennedy in the first.

Jay Jackson retired Willie Bloomquist (flied out to right) and Aaron Hill (struck out looking) to start the home half of the first. Justin Upton reached on a two-out double to right. Miguel Montero followed with a single to right. Upton scored, 1-0 Arizona.

Jackson issued a two-out walk to Chris Young and Jason Kubel singled to right. David DeJesus threw out Montero at the plate to end the inning.

Ian Stewart struck out swinging to start the second. Steve Clevenger followed with a double to center but Dave Sappelt grounded out to short and Blake Lalli struck out swinging to end the inning.

Jay Jackson sat down the D’Backs in order in the bottom of the second.

Other than a two-out walk by David DeJesus, the Cubs did nothing in the third.

The D’Backs tacked on in the bottom of the third after Aaron Hill reached on a one-out double to left. Hill stole third and trotted home on a double to right off the bat of Justin Upton. Montero hit a tapper back to Jay Jackson. Jackson threw to third to retire Upton for the second out … and Chris Young fouled out to Clevenger to end the inning.

After three, the Diamondbacks led 2-0.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth … 1-2-3 against Ian Kennedy.

The Diamondbacks third and final run of the game came on one swing of the bat. Jackson retired Kubel on a ground out to second. Paul Goldschmidt hit a big fly over the centerfield wall … 3-0 Arizona. Jackson then gave up a single to Geoff Blum.

Ian Kennedy hit into a 4-3 fielder’s choice and Bloomquist flied out to right for the third out.

Dave Sappelt led off the fifth with a single to left … but Blake Lalli and Alfredo Amezaga flied out. Eduardo Gonzalez hit for Jay Jackson … but Sappelt was picked off first to end the inning.

Frank Batista, up from minor league camp for the day, kept Arizona off the board in the fifth. After Aaron Hill (flied out to left) and Justin Upton (struck out swinging), Miguel Montero singled to left … but was forced when Chris Young hit a grounder to Amezaga at short.

Zeke DeVoss, up from minor league camp for the day, hit for Frank Batista to start the sixth. DeVoss singled to center but was doubled off first when DeJesus hit a liner to first. Marlon Byrd struck out swinging to end the sixth.

Scott Maine took over for Batista in the bottom of the sixth. Zeke DeVoss stayed in and replaced Byrd in center.

Maine struggled with his command and issued back-to-back one out walks to pinch-hitters Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra. Ian Kennedy sacrificed both runners up ninety feet but Maine struck out pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay, swinging, to end the inning.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the seventh thanks to back-to-back doubles by Blake DeWitt and Ian Stewart.

DeWitt led off the seventh with a double to center and scored on Stewart’s double to center. Steve Clevenger flied out to center and Dave Sappelt grounded out to short. Blake Lalli walked to put runners on first and second with two down … but Alfredo Amezaga flied out to right to end the inning.

Esmailin Caridad pitched around back-to-back two out singles in the bottom of the seventh without allowing any runs.

Takashi Saito took over for Ian Kennedy in the eighth and hit Zeke DeVoss to start the inning. After David DeJesus flied out to left, Micah Gibbs hit for Caridad. A wild pitch allowed DeVoss to advance to second and he scored the Cubs’ second run. Gibbs singled to right, DeVoss scored and the Cubs were down by one.

Blake DeWitt followed with a single. With runners on first and second with one down, Ian Stewart hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Steve Clevenger grounded out to second to end the inning.

Manny Corpas struck out the side (swinging) in the eighth … Roberts, Parra and Jonathan Griffin.

The Cubs did nothing against J.J. Putz in the ninth … exhibition game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs make their second trip to Goodyear in three days on Tuesday … but this time it will be to take on the Cincinnati Reds. Matt Garza is scheduled to face Mat Latos.

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Quote of the Day

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