Three Bombs and a Cubs Win – Cubs 11, Rockies 4

Spring Game Three – Cubs 11, Rockies 4
WP – Matt Garza (1-0) LP – Guillermo Moscoso (0-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgDale Sveum picked up his first ‘win‘ as a Cubs manager on Tuesday afternoon at HoHoKam Park behind big days at the plate from Alfonso Soriano (3-for-3 with two home runs, a double, two runs scored and three RBI), Brett Jackson (1-for-2 with a home run, a walk and three RBI), Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored) and Welington Castillo (2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a RBI). Soriano, Jackson and Rizzo drove in eight of the Cubs’ 11 runs.

The Cubs offense pounded out 14 hits, scored runs in half of their eight at bats, and put a four-spot on the scoreboard twice on a very windy day in Mesa. The wind did help Soriano’s homers and Jackson’s blast, but all three would have left the park without help … the wind was just good for the ‘wow factor‘.

Matt Garza threw the ball extremely well. After working out what appeared to be early communication problems with Welington Castillo, Garza pounded the strike zone in his two innings. Garza ended up allowing two runs on three hits and a hit batsman with a strikeout but his command was excellent and he seemed to throw the ball exactly where he wanted.

The Cubs’ pen was an issue in the first two exhibition games (Sveum and his staff have a lot of work to do with their relievers) but not on Tuesday. The Cubs skipper received solid pitching performances from his pen (Casey Coleman, James Russell, Chris Rusin, Alberto Cabrera and Andy Sonnanstine) in relief of Matt Garza, which was the difference against the Rockies’ travel team.

A new-look Casey Coleman pitched two shutout innings. Coleman threw strikes and did not issue any free passes. James Russell struggled a little but his problems came against right-handed hitters. Russell is a lefty specialist at this point in his career. Chris Rusin labored through two innings but Alberto Cabrera was impressive and throws a very heavy ball. Andy Sonnanstine made his Cubs’ debut and should have ended the game before he did. Sonnanstine did not receive two strike calls that should have ended the exhibition game.

The Cubs defense was much better Tuesday and Ian Stewart turned in several excellent defensive plays against his former team.

For the first time, Dale Sveum was able to hear ‘Go Cubs Go‘ after a game he won as the manager of the Chicago National League Ball Club.

Matt Garza and Welington Castillo did not appear to be on the same page in the first inning. Garza took time before throwing the first pitch of the game and more time in between pitches early in the first. Garza retired Fowler (3-2 pitch) on a groundout to first but gave up a single down the right field line to Jordan Pacheco (0-2 pitch). David DeJesus took an excellent route to the ball and made a strong throw to second to hold Pacheco to a single.

Garza retired Cuddyer and struck out Ramon Hernandez looking (1-2 pitch) to end the first. Garza threw 19 pitches in the opening inning, 14 for strikes.

David DeJesus led off the bottom of the first with one of his two walks on the afternoon. Marlon Byrd stepped in and looked at ball two as DeJesus broke for second.

DeJesus was thrown out at second and Byrd ended up swinging and missing at a 2-2 pitch … it was a bad at bat for Marlon Byrd. DeWitt ended up flying out to center to end the inning.

Matt Garza hit Casey Blake with an inside pitch on a 1-1 offering to start the second. And it ended up costing Garza a run. Brandon Wood ripped a 0-1 pitch off the base of the wall in center. Byrd appeared to have the ball caught but the wind kept pushing the fly ball. Blake held at third on the double.

Tyler Colvin had a good day against his former team and drove in the game’s first run with a ground out to second. Blake scored and Wood ended up at third. Chris Nelson hit a 1-1 pitch into left. Brett Jackson put himself into excellent position, caught the ball and fired in toward the plate. Wood had to hold, he could not score.

Wilkin Castillo singled to left on a 2-0 pitch and drove in Wood with the Rockies second run. Fowler ended up flying out to left to end the inning … and Garza’s afternoon.

Garza threw 14 pitches in the second, nine for strikes.

The Cubs took the lead for good in the second.

Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a monster shot to left (0-2 pitch) that hit half way up the scoreboard. Soriano put the Cubs on the board, but they were not done.

After Ian Stewart (ground out to second) and Junior Lake (ground out to short) made routine outs, Anthony Rizzo ripped a 2-1 pitch into right center. Welington Castillo followed with a double to right. Castillo tattooed a 1-0 pitch toward Michael Cuddyer. The former Twin tried to make a diving catch running in toward the infield. But the ball tailed and went off the web of his glove. Rizzo was held at third as Castillo rumbled into second with a double.

Brett Jackson stepped in and launched a 0-1 pitch into the back of the Cubs’ bullpen beyond the right field wall. The wind helped but Jackson ‘got all of it‘ and the ball would have left the park on a typical day at HoHoKam.

And just like that, the Cubs were up 4-2.

David DeJesus walked again after Jackson’s blast and advanced to second on a two-out single to left by Byrd (2-2 pitch) but DeWitt popped out to short to end the inning.

Casey Coleman made his spring debut in the third and threw the ball well. In some ways Tuesday was a typical Casey Coleman outing with a new hitch. Coleman threw strikes and did not walk a batter. He seemed to get an out when he needed one.

Coleman sat down Colorado in order in the third on 14 pitches, nine for strikes, and with a little help from Ian Stewart and Anthony Rizzo. Stewart robbed Cuddyer of a single down the line. Cuddyer ripped a 1-2 pitch, Stewart dove, snagged the ball then threw from his knees to first. Rizzo made a good scoop to retire Cuddyer.

The Cubs tacked on a run in the bottom of the third after Alfonso Soriano led off with a double to center (1-2 pitch). Soriano ran well as he rounded first. Ian Stewart advanced Soriano to third with a ground out to second … but he was actually robbed of a hit. Stewart hit a smash to the hole (1-1 pitch) and Chris Nelson made an excellent diving stop. Nelson actually lost his glove but was able to pick up the ball and just nail the hustling Stewart. Junior Lake struck out swinging on 1-2 pitch (low and way outside) for the second out.

Anthony Rizzo reached on a swinging bunt (3-1 pitch) and Soriano scored the Cubs fifth run. Rizzo hit a dribbler to third that Blake tried to make a pick and a throw but the ball sailed and Rizzo beat it out … he hustled out of the box. The play was originally ruled an error but was changed to a hit. Castillo grounded out to third (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Casey Coleman worked his way in and out of trouble in the fourth (13 pitches, 10 for strikes). Coleman retired Blake (groundout to first) and Wood (ground out to third, another solid play by Stewart) before Tyler Colvin singled to center (0-1 pitch). Chris Nelson singled to right but Coleman retired Castillo on a ground out to second to end the inning (lots of groundball outs for Coleman).

Brett Jackson led off the fourth with a walk. Jackson was behind in the count 1-2 against Alex White before working the free pass. DeJesus hit into a 4-6-3 double play and Byrd struck out swinging to end the inning.

James Russell made his first appearance of the spring Tuesday. Russell wants to take over Sean Marshall’s old role in the Cubs’ pen. Until he is able to retire right-handed batters, it is not going to happen. Russell struggled with right handers again Tuesday.

Dexter Fowler hit a big fly (off the scoreboard in left) on a 2-2 pitch from Russell to start the fifth. Jordan Pacheco followed with a single to left and Cuddyer ripped a 0-1 pitch into left.

Russell adjusted and induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Ramon Hernandez. Pacheco ended up at third and was stranded when Blake flied out to left to end the inning.

James Russell allowed one run on three hits without a walk or a strikeout in one inning (15 pitches, 10 for strikes).

The Cubs tacked onto their 5-3 led in the bottom of the fifth.

Blake DeWitt singled to left center (2-1 pitch) then trotted home when Alfonso Soriano launched another ball out to left (1-0 pitch) and just like that the Cubs were up 7-3.

Ian Stewart walked and advanced to third when Junior Lake ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to second (1-0 pitch) and Stewart scored from third (8-3 Cubs). Lake advanced to third on the play and scored on a single to left by Welington Castillo.

Brett Jackson struck out swinging and pinch-hitter Dave Sappelt flied out to center to end the inning.

Dale Sveum made wholesale changes in the top of the sixth. Chris Rusin took over on the mound and Jae-Hoon Ha (LF), Joe Mather (1B), Adrian Cardenas (2B), Jonathan Mota (SS), Edgar Gonzalez (3B), James Adduci (CF), Dave Sappelt (RF) and Michael Brenly (C) replaced the starters.

Chris Rusin pitched better in his first inning of work than his line indicates. Rusin threw 11 pitches in the sixth, eight for strikes. The run came after Tyler Colvin tripled to left center. Both Jae-Hoon Ha and James Adduci misplayed the ball. The ball hit on the warning track just short of the wall in left center, short hopped the wall and bounced past Ha and Adduci. Colvin could have had an inside the park homer. Instead he ended up scoring on a ground out to short (0-2 pitch to Nelson). Castillo flied out to center to end the inning.

James Adduci led off the sixth with an infield single to third (3-2 pitch) but was erased when a hit was taken away from Adrian Cardenas. Josh Roenicke snagged the smash that Cardenas hit back up the box and started the 1-6-3 double play.

Josh Vitters worked a two out walk, stole second with Edgar Gonzalez at the plate. Vitters was stranded when Gonzalez struck out swinging.

Chris Rusin labored through the seventh and while he did not allow any runs, his command was nowhere near as sharp as it was in the sixth. Rusin threw 20 pitches in the seventh, nine for strikes.

Rusin walked Charlie Blackmon on four pitches to start the inning. Ben Paulsen grounded into a 6-3 double play. Rusin then walked Tim Wheeler on five pitches. Wilin Rosario flied out to deep center to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Jonathan Mota singled to center to start the inning and scored on a triple to center by Joe Mather. Michael Brenly grounded out to short for the first out.

Jae-Hoon Ha hit a grounder to third. Brendan Harris threw home but Mather slid in ahead of the tag … 11-4 Cubs. Dave Sappelt hit a deep fly to center. Ha went back, tagged from first and advanced to second before James Adduci struck out swinging to end the inning.

Alberto Cabrera was impressive in the eighth. Other than Harris’ double (off the batter’s eye in center), Cabrera threw the ball extremely well. Cabrera retired Gomez on a poop out to second, struck out Jamie Hoffman and got D.J. LeMahieu to fly out to right on a 0-1 pitch to end the inning. Cabrera threw 14 pitches in the eighth, 11 for strikes.

The Cubs went down in order in the bottom of the eighth and Andy Sonnanstine made his debut in the ninth.

Sonnanstine gave up a hit and a walk and that was it (and both batters should have been punched out by the home plate umpire, two missed third strikes). Sonnanstine threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs make their first road trip of the spring Wednesday and travel to Surprise to take on the Kansas City Royals. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Jonathan Sanchez.

Observations from the Park

  • Welington Castillo spent quite a bit of time prior to Tuesday’s game working on blocking pitches in the dirt in the Cubs’ pen.
  • David DeJesus can play right field … Solid routes, strong throws and he hustles.
  • Brett Jackson is a very good left fielder.
  • Dale Sveum lost to Paul Maholm in the Cubs’ bunting tournament Tuesday … from judging by the skipper’s reaction, he did not enjoy being eliminated from the tournament.
  • The Cubs spent quite a bit of time working on their infield defense on the half field before Tuesday’s game.

Video from Cubs vs. Rockies – March 6

Matt Garza


Casey Coleman


James Russell


Chris Rusin


Alberto Cabrera

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

Share on Fancred
  • paulcatanese

    Good recap Neil, listened to the game (don’t tell them) but the post was more complete than the broadcast.
    Sveum is going to have some tough choices, but it’s nice to have that problem.

    • J Daniel

      Maybe team Theo knows what they are doing?

      • paulcatanese

        Could be, it’s too bad that the Cubs had to waste the last two years finding out what they have.
        Still not over the aggravation of watching veterans playing for nothing.
        Even though there are new kids on the block, they are getting the chance to see what they can contribute.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Paul, and I won’t tell Pat.

  • cubtex

    Nice observation about James Russell. He cannot get righties out consistently. The numbers prove it. For those on here that think he can take over Marshall’s role…….No chance!

    • Tony_Hall

      He could be the late inning lefty to replace Marshall, but won’t be expected to pitch the whole inning.  That is what made Marshall so good, you didn’t have to make an extra move to bring in the righty.

      More likely that one of Gaub, Beliveau gets that role anyway.  I think they could actually take 3 lefties to start the year, obviously they will have at least 2.

  • jw

    Hey Hey the Cubs are on their way!

  • Jim_Tinley_Park

    Another great job Neil :)

  • Cubs 31

    Great report, Neil.  Being in Fort Myers, will have chance to watch the Cubs main rivals, St. Louis Cardinals, this Friday against the Minnesota Twins.  Article in today’s Fort Myers News-Press newspaper that Lee County is going into talks with the Washington Nationals to take over City of Palms baseball park for spring training. This was the old home of the Boston Red Sox.  The new Jet Blue Park has received high marks.  Now if the Cubs were smart enough they would have made that move to Naples, FL and a new stadium would be ready next year.  This could have been spring training schedule for the Cubs in 2013:  Red Sox, Twins, Rays, Cardinals, Marlins, Phillies, Yankees, Nationals, and Pirates.

    • Jeff in AZ

      I’m kinda glad that Florida thing didn’t happen, but look at my signature and it becomes obvious that I may be biased. Lol

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Baseball America, the Cubs released RHP Kyle Smit. Smit was acquired along with Blake DeWitt & Brett Wallach in ’10 Ted Lilly-Ryan Theriot trade with Dodgers.