Navarro Powers Cubs Past Giants – Cubs 4, Giants 3

Spring Training Game Two – Cubs 4, Giants 3

WP – Jeff Samardzija (1-0) LP – Matt Cain (0-1) Save – Shawn Camp (1)

wflag-pubThe Cubs posted their second straight spring victory on Sunday afternoon, and defeated the Giants in the final spring home opener at HoHoKam Park.

The Cubs beat Matt Cain and the defending World Series Champions behind a four-run first inning that was highlighted by a three-run homer by Dioner Navarro. Navarro took an impressive batting practice into the game, and his first homer in a Cubs’ uniform ended up being the difference as the Cubs improved to 2-0 in Cactus League action.

Jeff Samardzija made his first start of the spring, and put together a solid outing. While Samardzija was reportedly not happy with his outing, he threw the ball well despite struggling with his slider. Samardzija allowed one run on three hits with a pair of strikeouts and no walks in two innings. Samardzija threw 33 pitches over two innings, 21 for strikes.

Other than Carlos Marmol, the Cubs bullpen threw strikes and kept the Giants off the board. The one run that crossed the plate while Cory Wade was on the mound was unearned. Three relievers that figure to make up the backend of the pen leading up to Carlos Marmol were sharp in their first appearances. Kyuji Fujikawa allowed a hit but struck out two in an impressive inning of work. James Russell retired all three batters he faced with a strikeout, and Shawn Camp struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Cubs’ pitching walked only one batter for the second straight day and the defense was solid again, despite the error that was charged to Anthony Rizzo.

The Cubs played a good game in front of 7,784 on a windy and rather cool afternoon at HoHoKam Park.

Jeff Samardzija began his afternoon with a solid first inning. Samardzija gave up a hit to Pablo Sandoval on a slider but other than the one mistake, he was sharp. Samardzija threw 11 pitches in the first inning, eight for strikes.

The Cubs jumped on Matt Cain in the first … but it was an inning he likely should not have finished. After David DeJesus (0-for-1 with a walk) flied out to center, Starlin Castro (1-for-2 with a run scored) ripped Cain’s first pitch into center for a solid single. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with a run scored) followed and hit a chopper toward first. Brandon Belt fielded the ball but sailed his throw to second. Castro hustled and beat the throw and Rizzo beat the return throw to first base.

Alfonso Soriano (2-for-2 with a run scored) smacked a 0-1 pitch back up the middle that hit Matt Cain in the leg. The ball bounced toward first but Soriano reached first to load the bases with one out. Nate Schierholtz (0-for-2 with a RBI) grounded out to first, and plated Castro with the first run of the game.

Dioner Navarro (1-for-1 with a home run, three RBI and a walk) stepped in with runners on second and third with two down. Navarro launched a 2-1 pitch into the Giants bullpen beyond the wall in right. While the wind was howling at HoHoKam, Navarro got all of it and the ball would have left the park on a normal day.

Brian Bogusevic (2-for-2 with a double) followed with a double down the left field line, but was stranded when Darnell McDonald grounded out to second.

Jeff Samardzija struck out Roger Kieschnick (looking) and Brandon Crawford (swinging) to start the second inning. But Samardzija hung a slider to Francisco Peguero on a 2-2 pitch that he pulled down the right field line for a double. Guillermo Quiroz followed and lined a 3-2 pitch back up the middle that just missed Samardzija. Peguero scored, 4-1 Cubs. Samardzija retired Angel Villalona on a grounder to short to end the inning and his outing. Samardzija threw 22 pitches in the second, 13 for strikes.

Carlos Marmol labored through the third inning and gave up a run on one hit, one walk and one strikeout in an inning of work … just a typical Carlos Marmol outing. Marmol struggled with his command, and threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Cory Wade made his Cubs’ debut in the fourth, and while the Giants scored a run in the inning, Wade was very good … and threw strikes. Brandon Crawford hit a routine grounder to short. Castro fielded the ball cleanly but did not square up and his throw to first was low … Castro’s third bad throw of the afternoon. Anthony Rizzo caught the ball, but dropped it and Crawford was called safe and Rizzo was charged with an error. Peguero followed with a single to left and the Giants had runners on first and third with no outs. Quiroz lifted a 1-0 pitch into center that DeJesus hauled in. Crawford tagged and scored, 4-3 Cubs. DeJesus robbed Villalona of a single with a diving catch in left center then Dioner Navarro threw out Peguero trying to steal second to end the inning. Cory Wade threw 14 pitches in the fourth, 10 for strikes.

Wade remained in and pitched the fifth as Dale Sveum emptied his bench. Brad Nelson (1B), Logan Watkins (2B), Edwin Maysonet (SS), Alberto Gonzalez (3B), Rafael Lopez (C), Johermyn Chavez (RF), Matt Szczur (CF) and Darnell McDonald (LF) took over for the starting eight in the field.

Cory Wade made quick work of the Giants in the fifth and retired the side on 10 pitches, five for strikes.

Casey Coleman made his first appearance of the spring in the sixth … and for a lack of better words, was Casey Coleman. Coleman has tweaked his delivery once again and no longer has the pause with a look back before going to the plate. Coleman hit a batter and pitched from behind in the count. Coleman threw 13 pitches, seven for strikes.

Kyuji Fujikawa made his Cubs’ debut in the seventh and was rather impressive. Fujikawa pounded the strike zone and while he gave up a hit, he threw 10 pitches, nine for strikes.

As the Cubs’ offense continued to make outs, so did the Cubs’ bullpen.

James Russell took over in the eighth, and had a ho-hum outing. Edwin Maysonet made an excellent play at shortstop behind him, but Russell needed only 10 pitches, seven for strikes, to complete the eighth.

And Shawn Camp sat down the Giants in order in the ninth to close out the spring win … Camp threw 14 pitches, 11 for strikes.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Video from Cubs Cactus League Game against the Giants

The Cubs travel to Glendale to face the Dodgers on Monday. Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to make his Cubs’ debut, and is expected to face Chad Billingsley.

Observations from the Park

Welington Castillo spent a lot of time Sunday morning working his on defense with Franklin Font and J.C. Boscan. Castillo worked on blocking pitches, his footwork and the right way to throw to second base. Boscan, who is on camp on a non-roster invite, was very active in the coaching and showed Castillo many different ways to accomplish the same goal. Boscan and Font worked with Castillo to get him to step on the back of the plate, right on the point, in order to make an accurate throw to second base. Castillo appeared to be soaking up the information, and the results were very interesting to watch. Boscan also worked with Castillo to cut down his stride on his throws and worked on the proper way to make pick-off throws to first base. There was major improvement from the beginning to the end. Not only did Castillo appear happy, but he received thumbs up and a pat on the back from both Font and Boscan.

Dontrelle Willis was in the Cubs’ bullpen on Sunday in full uniform. Willis did not warm-up during the game, but did throw a session in the pen once the game ended.

Jeff Samardzija began his warm ups on Sunday long-tossing with Dioner Navarro. When the warm-ups moved from the field into the bullpen, Andy Lane, the Cubs’ bullpen catcher, squatted down behind the plate for Samardzija to throw to. Dioner Navarro watched for a while then replaced Lane behind the practice plate.

Starlin Castro had a rough day in the field. Castro was lackadaisical with three throws that could have easily gone as errors. Anthony Rizzo saved him two errors then Rizzo was charged with one on a ball that Castro threw low to first that Rizzo gloved then dropped.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax