Spring Game Two – Cubs 7, A’s (SS) 8
WP – Fabio Castro (1-0, BS 1) LP – Tony Zych (0-1) Save – Travis Banwart (1)
For the second day in a row the Cubs had a lead early but could not hold on and win their first game of the spring. The Cubs jumped on Bartolo Colon early and put a three-spot on the board in the second thanks to one swing by Blake DeWitt. DeWitt launched the first pitch he saw this spring over the wall in right … DeWitt’s three-run homer landed in the Cubs’ bullpen.
The Cubs scored three more times in the fourth with Josh Vitters and Darwin Barney driving in runs. After four the Cubs led 6-1 thanks to enough offense and solid pitching performances by Ryan Dempster, Scott Maine, Blake Parker and Casey Weathers.
Ryan Dempster threw the ball pretty well in his first outing of the spring. Dempster struggled with his command a little and allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts and no walks in his first two innings of the exhibition season.
The A’s took a big bite out of the Cubs 6-1 lead in the sixth. Marco Carrillo could not throw strikes and gave up four runs on three hits with a pair of walks and no strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. Manny Corpas finished the sixth then had his own issues in the seventh. Corpas gave Blake Lalli a workout behind the plate and appeared to struggle with finding an arm slot. Corpas surrendered two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 1 1/3 innings.
Two of the highlights of the day were a pair of call-ups from minor league camp. Kevin Rhoderick and Tony Zych made their way up from Fitch for the day. Both pitchers were extremely impressive despite the fact Zych gave up a home run on his first pitch of the day.
Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a RBI), Blake DeWitt (1-for-2 with a home run, walk, two runs scored and three RBI), Josh Vitters (1-for-2 with a double and one RBI), Steve Clevenger (1-for-2 with a sac fly, a run scored and a RBI) and Jeff Baker (2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored) led the Cubs’ offense on an overcast Monday afternoon at HoHoKam Park. Ryan Dempster gave up a single to Collin Cowgill in the first, but that was all. Cowgill ended up stealing second (Clevenger’s throw was high) with Seth Smith at the plate. Dempster struck out Smith swinging on a nice change-up for the second out and Reed Johnson made an excellent running catch in left center on a ball hit by Jonny Gomes to end the first. Dempster threw 16 pitches in the opening inning, 11 for strikes.
After the Cubs went down in order against Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the first, the A’s took the lead in the second.
Josh Reddick led off the second with a triple to the right field corner (Dempster hung an off-speed pitch). Brandon Allen followed with a sac fly to left on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Reddick tagged and scored easily, 1-0 Oakland.
Dempster retired Timmons on a ground out to Josh Vitters and struck out Powell looking (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Dempster threw 18 pitches in the second, 12 for strikes.
The Cubs jumped on Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the second.
After Bryan LaHair hit a deep fly out to left center, Jeff Baker ripped a 2-1 pitch into left for the Cubs’ first hit of the game. Reed Johnson flied out to right for the second out.
Steve Clevenger kept the inning going with a single to center (2-1 pitch) and came around to score on Blake DeWitt’s three-run shot. Vitters grounded out to second to end the inning.
Scott Maine took over in the third and put together a good inning. Maine gave up a couple of hits but made the right pitch when he needed to. Seth Smith nearly tied the game when he lined a 1-0 pitch off the top of the wall in right (Maine threw a change-up) but with runners on first and third with two outs, Maine jammed Jonny Gomes and got the former Red to pop out to right … it was the right pitch in the right location. Maine threw 10 pitches in the third, nine for strikes.
Starlin Castro (hard single to left) notched his first hit of the spring in the third and chased Bartolo Colon from the game … but that was it for the Cubs. Campana (out on bunt attempt), Barney (ground out to second) and LaHair (popped out to second) could not help string together any hits.
Blake Parker sat down Oakland in order in the fourth on 17 pitches, 11 for strikes. Parker threw the ball well with a nice change-up and kept the A’s off balance.
The Cubs tacked on three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Jeff Baker ripped the first pitch he saw from lefty Jordan Norberto into the right field corner. Baker ended up at second and advanced to third on an error by Brandon Allen. Reed Johnson ripped a 0-1 pitch to Allen that just ate up the first baseman. With runners on first and third with no outs, Steve Clevenger hit a deep fly to left center (2-0 pitch), Baker tagged and scored on the sac fly … 4-1 Cubs.
Blake DeWitt worked a walk and Vitters stepped in with runners on first and second with two down.
Josh Vitters ripped a 1-1 pitch into left center. Johnson scored easily and DeWitt held at third on the double. Tony Campana walked to load the bases with one out.
Darwin Barney hit a 0-1 pitch off the end of his bat but got just enough to muscle the ball out to shallow right. DeWitt scored, 6-1 Cubs.
Starlin Castro went fishing on a 1-2 pitch and struck out swinging on a bad pitch. LaHair struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
After four, the Cubs led 6-1.
Casey Weathers retired Oakland in order in the fifth with a little help by two excellent defensive plays by Starlin Castro (one to his right, one to his left with a throw from the hole). Weathers hit his spots and threw nine pitches, six for strikes.
Joe Mather made his Cubs’ debut in the bottom of the fifth and led off with a single to left. With Reed Johnson at the plate, Mather stole second and advanced to third on a groundout to first off the bat of Clevenger. Blake DeWitt flied out to left to end the inning.
Dale Sveum went to his bench and pen in the sixth … and that is when the wheels fell off and the game slowed to a snail’s pace.
Marco Carrillo, Matt Szczur (LF), Dave Sappelt (CF), Alfredo Amezaga (3B), Blake Lalli (C), Bobby Scales (2B), Anthony Rizzo (1B) and Joe Mather (RF) entered the game.
For the lack of a better word, Carrillo was horrible and could not record three outs. Carrillo threw 34 pitches in 2/3 of an inning, 15 for strikes. Carrillo missed down in the zone first before just missing.
The A’s ended up scoring four runs on three hits with a pair of walks off Carrillo before Dale Sveum decided he’d seen enough. Sveum made the slow walk and brought in Manny Corpas to close out the sixth. Corpas struck out Horton swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs could not tack on in the bottom of the sixth after Bobby Scales hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
The Cubs took a 6-5 led into the seventh but Corpas could not find the strike zone. Brandon Moss tied the game with a double and he scored the go ahead run on a single to center by Michael Choice. Castro dove for the ball and got a glove on it but could not keep it in the infield. With the A’s up 7-6, Corpas reached back and struck out Chris Carter to end the inning.
The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the seventh against Fabio Castro.
After Starlin Castro (ground out to short) and Anthony Rizzo (struck out looking) could not get on to start the inning, Joe Mather singled to center with two outs. Mather stole second with Szczur at the plate. Szczur ended up working a walk.
Blake Lalli delivered a two-out single to left center on a 0-2 pitch. Mather scored the tying run but pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez flied out to right to end the inning.
Kevin Rhoderick made his way from the pen and retired Oakland in order on 12 pitches, eight for strikes. Rhoderick hit his spots and looked very good on the mound.
Bobby Scales reached on a two-out single in the ninth … but was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
Tony Zych ended up taking the loss after Yordy Cabrera launched Zych’s first pitch over the wall in left center. But Zych settled down and blew away Oakland’s hitters. Zych made Jonny Gomes look very bad to end the inning and ended up throwing 11 pitches, eight for strikes.
The performances of Kevin Rhoderick and Tony Zych had to give their new boss, Theo Epstein, something to think about. Epstein was in the crowd watching the game and did not leave until the bottom of the ninth.
The Cubs managed a single in the ninth (Matt Tolbert) but Joe Mather hit into a 5-4-3 game ending double play.
Matt Garza will make his spring debut Tuesday at HoHoKam against the Colorado Rockies. Jim Tracy is scheduled to send Guillermo Moscoso to the hill.
Observations from the Park
- The bunting tournament was fun to watch. Each of the players is taking it very seriously and players that were not involved showed up to watch. There were plenty of expletives and slammed bats by the losers. Dale Sveum was on hand to watch his players.
- Theo Epstein walked through the crowd when he left his seat in the ninth inning … and even took time to sign an autograph for a fan wearing a Red Sox cap.
- Batting practice is a must see. The Cubs are multi-tasking during BP. They are working on baserunning, fielding (both infield and outfield). The outfielders are even working on their throws. The pre-game workouts have been longer and much more focused than in years past under Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella and Mike Quade.
- For the second day in a row, the Cubs held extra batting practice following the game. Rudy Jaramillo led the practice. Players on hand Monday included Dave Sappelt, Tony Campana, Jae-Hoon Ha, Matt Szczur, Junior Lake and Michael Brenly.
- During the eighth inning of the second Cactus League game, the coaching staff was positioning their defense.
- Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo appear to be inseparable.
- Darwin Barney is noticeably bigger this spring after spending the winter in ‘Camp Bussie’ … the same cannot be said about Tony Campana.
- Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters worked hard on their defense prior to Monday’s game.
- Dave Sappelt makes good jumps and takes good routes on fly balls.
Video from Cubs vs. A’s – March 5
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