A Collective Victory in the Cactus League – Cubs 4, Rockies 2

Spring Training Game Four – Cubs 4, Rockies 2

WP – Andrew Carpenter (1-0) LP – Jorge De La Rosa (0-1) Save – Nick Struck (1)

wflag-pubThe Cubs won for the third time in four Spring Training games on Tuesday afternoon behind an excellent start from Edwin Jackson, home runs by Christian Villanueva and Dave Sappelt, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brett Jackson.

A day after walking nine batters and hitting another one, Cubs pitching issued only one walk on Tuesday afternoon, which accounted for one of the Rockies two runs. The Cubs offense did just enough to pull out the spring victory. The Cubs managed only six hits, but half of them went for extra bases. Christian Villanueva (1-for-2 with a home run) homered in the third inning for the Cubs first hit and run of the afternoon. Starlin Castro (1-for-2 with a double and a run scored) led off the fourth with a towering double and scored on a Brett Jackson (0-for-1 with a sac fly and a RBI) sac fly. Dave Sappelt, who is battling for a job out of camp, went 2-for-2 with a home run and two runs scored. The Cubs fourth run scored on a bases loaded walk by Matt Szczur (0-for-1 with a RBI and a walk) in the eighth … all told, the Cubs walked four times on Tuesday.

Edwin Jackson looked very good in his Cubs’ debut. Jackson gave up a pair of hits in the first inning, but that was it. Jackson hit his spots for the most part during the ‘rocky’ first inning. He elevated his fastball at times, but for the most part, everything was down. After throwing 16 pitches in the first, 10 for strikes, Jackson retired the Rockies in order in the second on 14 pitches, 12 for strikes … with all three outs coming on weak grounders to the infielders. Jackson threw 30 pitches in his first action of the spring, 22 for strikes, and five of the six outs he recorded were on the ground.

Drew Carpenter picked up the spring victory after a so-so outing. Carpenter made quick work of the Rockies in the third but labored in the fourth and allowed Colorado to tie the game. Chris Rusin and Zach Putnam put together scoreless outings in their spring debuts. Nick Struck allowed the Rockies second and final run in the eighth before settling down and throwing strikes.

The Cubs played another solid game on Tuesday, and even executed a pair of run downs. While it is “only Spring Training” it is good to see the Cubs playing fundamental baseball.

Edwin Jackson took the hill at HoHoKam Park and made quick work of Tyler Colvin to start the game. Colvin lined out to Brett Jackson in left for the first out. Charlie Culbertson followed and grounded out to third, Christian Villanueva made a nifty pick and made a strong throw to first for the second out. Carlos Gonzalez singled to left on a 1-1 pitch and advanced to second on a single to center (2-2 pitch) by Michael Cuddyer, but Ben Paulsen grounded out to short to end the inning … Starlin Castro made a strong accurate throw for the third out. Jackson threw 16 pitches in the first inning, 10 for strikes.

Edwin Jackson retired the Rockies in order in the second on 14 pitches, 12 for strikes. Colorado hit three weak grounders (two to second, one to third), and did not square up a single pitch.

Edwin Jackson

Cubs Take the Field

The Cubs’ offense could not get on track against Jhoulys Chacin. The Rockies’ right handed retired all six batters he faced.

Drew Carpenter made quick work of the Rockies in the third, and retired all three batters he faced.

Jorge De La Rosa replaced Chacin in the third. After Brent Lillibridge grounded out to short, Christian Villanueva launched De La Rosa’s first pitch over the wall in left … the Cubs first hit of the afternoon.

Christian Villanueva’s Home Run

De La Rosa retired Johermyn Chavez (ground out to short) and David DeJesus (struck out swinging on 3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Drew Carpenter stayed in for the fourth, and struggled against Major League hitters. Carpenter walked Carlos Gonzalez on four pitches. On a 1-0 pitch to Cuddyer, Gonzalez took off for second, and slid in safe ahead of a strong throw from Dioner Navarro. Paulsen smacked the first pitch he saw into center, Gonzalez scored, game tied at one … once again a walk came around to score.

Ramon Hernandez followed and ripped a single into right. Paulsen stopped at third with one out. Ryan Wheeler looked at a 3-2 pitch that was called strike three. Hernandez broke for second with the pitch, and stopped halfway in between first and second. Castro took the throw from Navarro, ran Hernandez back toward first then threw to Rizzo. Paulsen broke for the plate, and Rizzo threw home. Navarro applied the tag for the third out.

Starlin Castro led off the Cubs’ fourth with a double over Tyler Colvin’s head in center. Castro got all of the 1-2 pitch from De La Rosa and drove the ball to the deepest part of the park. Rizzo followed with a productive out. Rizzo pulled the first pitch he saw to second, Castro advanced to third with one down. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and quickly fell behind 1-2. Soriano took a few close pitches, worked a full count then took ball four.

With runners on first and third with one down, Brett Jackson crushed a 3-2 pitch from the lefty De La Rosa that chase Colvin all the way back to the warning track in center. Colvin hauled it in two steps onto the track. Castro scored, 2-1 Cubs. Navarro popped out to short to end the inning.

Chris Rusin made his spring debut on Tuesday, and threw the ball rather well. Rusin hit his spots, and threw 17 pitches in the fifth inning, 12 for strikes. Rusin gave up a single to Tyler Colvin in the inning, but caught him leaning off first. Colvin was caught in a rundown and Castro tagged him out.

Chris Rusin

Dale Sveum emptied his bench in the sixth. Brad Nelson (1B), Logan Watkins (2B), Javier Baez (SS), Edwin Maysonet (3B), Rafael Lopez (C), Darnell McDonald (RF), Dave Sappelt (CF) and Matt Szczur (LF) replaced the starters.

Chris Rusin remained on the mound for the sixth. Rusin made quick work of the top of the Rockies lineup, including Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. Rusin threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes, and was aided by an excellent defensive play by Logan Watkins. Watkins knocked down a ball ticketed for center, recovered and threw out Cuddyer at first base.

Dave Sappelt led off the sixth with a big blast to left. Sappelt’s solo shot on a 1-1 pitch hit the old scoreboard at HoHoKam Park. Javier Baez followed with a single to left, and swiped second base. Baez has good wheels … and of course, excellent bat speed.

Javier Baez

Welington Castillo hit for Soriano and flied out to right for the second out. Matt Szczur struck out looking to end the inning, and really looked lost at the plate.

Zach Putnam made his Cubs’ debut in the seventh, and was very sharp. Putnam retired the side in order on eight pitches, six for strikes.

Zach Putnam

Nick Struck made his spring debut in the eighth, and was very shaky. Struck was not fooling anyone with a bat in his hands. D.J. LeMahieu crushed a 1-2 pitch over Sappelt’s head in straight away center. The ball one-hopped the wall , and LeMahieu ended up at third with a triple. Wheeler followed with a deep fly to right center that allowed LeMahieu to score from third. Henry Wrigley smoked the first pitch he saw into left. After the Wrigley single, Struck struggled with his location. Struck fell behind Dickerson 3-0 before getting him to hit a comebacker on a 3-2 pitch. Struck knocked the ball down, recovered, and threw to second. Baez stepped on the bag for the out, but his throw to first was off the mark. Nelson hustled after the ball, picked it up and threw back to Baez for the out … just your typical 1-6-3-6 double play. Struck got out of the inning without any further damage, and threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes.

Nick Struck

The Cubs added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Adam Ottavino really struggled with his command, and the Cubs took advantage. After McDonald fouled out to first to start the inning, Dave Sappelt singled to left on a 1-0 pitch. Javier Baez hit a tapper back to the mound when he tried to check his swing. Sappelt advanced to second with two out. Brad Nelson and Welington Castillo walked to load the bases.

Matt Szczur looked at ball four (3-1 pitch), and the free pass forced in Sappelt with the Cubs’ fourth and final run. Rafael Lopez flied out to left (2-1 pitch) to end the inning.

Nick Struck stayed in for the ninth. Struck appeared much more comfortable in his second inning of work. Struck threw 10 pitches in the ninth, six for strikes, and caught Lars Davis looking to end the game.

On a personal note, Tuesday was my last game at HoHoKam Park as the Cubs’ home field during Spring Training. The people at HoHoKam have always been incredibly nice to me and my wife. While the change to the new facility is a must, I will miss going every year to HoHoKam and watching a ballgame.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs host the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. Brooks Raley is scheduled to face Aaron Harang in game five of the Cactus League schedule.

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Quote of the Day

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