Spring Training Game Three – Cubs 6, Dodgers 7
WP – Paco Rodriguez (1-0) LP – Dontrelle Willis (0-1) Save – Blake Johnson (1)
The Cubs dropped their first game of the spring on a beautiful afternoon in Glendale to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs jumped on Chad Billingsley in the first inning and scored a pair of runs on a Luis Valbuena (1-for-2 with a double and a run scored) double, a Darwin Barney (1-for-2 with a double, a RBI, a walk and a run scored) double and a Nate Schierholtz (2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored) home run, but Carlos Villanueva hit his pitch limit after recording only two outs in the first inning, and the Dodgers tied the game.
The Cubs put a four-spot on the board in the third inning on back-to-back jacks by Darnell McDonald (1-for-2 with a home run and three RBI) and Welington Castillo (1-for-2 with a home run). McDonald broke the 2-2 tie with a three-run homer and Castillo followed with a solo shot that traveled an estimated 440 feet. The Cubs took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the third.
The Cubs offense looked good early on against Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano, but did not score a run after the third inning. Each hitter continued working the count, and for the day the offense pounded out 12 hits, five for extra bases.
After issuing two walks combined in the first two games, Cubs’ pitching issued nine free passes on Monday afternoon, hit a batter and committed two balks … 10 free baserunners to go along with the nine hits allowed. The walks not only came around to score but also ran up pitch counts in what was many of the pitchers first outing of the spring. Dale Sveum had to shift his pitching plans and ended up using two pitchers on the trip up for the day from minor league camp … Brian Schlitter and Dontrelle Willis.
Schlitter struggled with his command, and allowed the Dodgers to tie the game in the seventh. Schlitter allowed a run on three hits and a walk.
Dontrelle Willis made his Cubs’ debut in the eighth, but seven pitches into his outing, he left the game with shoulder tightness. Willis found the strike zone only twice and walked the only batter he faced. Jensen Lewis replaced Willis, and allowed Willis’ free pass to score … the game winner.
The players that figure to be on the Cubs’ roster come Opening Day had a good afternoon in Glendale, but free baserunners always cost teams, even in Spring Training.
Luis Valbuena led off the game with a ground rule double just to the right of straight away center (2-1 pitch). Valbuena has squared up just about every ball he’s hit this spring. Darwin Barney followed, and ripped a 1-2 pitch into right center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, and Valbuena scored easily. Barney tried to stretch a double into a triple, and was thrown out by a mile.
Nate Schierholtz stepped in and launched a 0-1 pitch over the wall in right center … and just like that the Cubs had a 2-0 lead. Scott Hairston lined a single into center. Hairston then advanced to second when Brad Nelson grounded out to the hole at second. Darnell McDonald hit a routine grounder to short to end the inning.
Carlos Villanueva made his Cubs’ debut on Monday afternoon … but was unable to finish the first inning due to a pitch count limit. Villanueva threw 34 pitches in two-thirds of an inning, 18 for strikes, but 15 of them were thrown to Dee Gordon.
Gordon put together an impressive 15-pitch at bat to start the inning. Villanueva ended up catching him looking at a 3-2 pitch right down main, but Villanueva lost his command afterwards and issued walks to both Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr.
After the called third strike to Gordon, Villanueva threw six straight out of the zone. Each pitch was down and appeared to just miss.
Carlos Villanueva from the first inning of Monday’s game
Juan Uribe grounded out to second for the first out. Schumaker and Hairston Jr. advanced to second and third. Nick Punto ripped a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and into center. Schumaker and Hairston Jr. scored to tie the game at two.
At that point, Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for Blake Parker. Parker did hit job, and ended the inning. Parker threw eight pitches, five for strikes, to Alex Castellanos and caught him looking to end the inning. Welington Castillo was given a throwing error when Punto took off for second on the 3-1 pitch to Castellanos. The throw appeared to be on the mark, maybe a little into the runner, but Valbuena missed a ball that Darwin Barney catches nine times out of 10.
Blake Parker issued a two-out walk to Tony Gwynn Jr. in the second inning, but did not allow any runs. Parker threw 11 pitches in the second, five for strikes. Welington Castillo made a perfect throw to nail Gwynn Jr. at second to end the inning.
Chris Capuano struggled against the Cubs for one of the few times in his career on Monday afternoon. The Cubs really made the southpaw work, and it paid off.
Darwin Barney walked to start the third. Nate Schierholtz then reached on a broken bat, infield single. Schierholtz punched a 1-2 pitch toward the hole at short. Alfredo Amezaga fielded the ball, and tried to throw out Barney at second. Barney slid in safe and advanced to third when Capuano made a bad throw on a pickoff attempt to second base. Hairston struck out swinging for the first out. With runners on first and third with one out, Brad Nelson struck out swinging.
Darnell McDonald stepped in and lifted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left. McDonald’s first homer of the spring put the Cubs up 5-2.
Welington Castillo followed and crushed a 2-0 pitch from Capuano. The ball ended up beyond the wall just to the left of straight away center … and traveled an estimated 440 feet. The back-to-back jacks put the Cubs up by four runs. Lake grounded out to third to end the inning.
Barret Loux made his spring debut in the third inning, and was rather impressive. Loux has a very smooth delivery, and after he settled down he threw strikes. Loux issued a walk to Dee Gordon, and gave up a bloop single to Hairston Jr., but that was it. Loux induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Uribe to end the inning. Loux threw 16 pitches, 10 for strikes, and kept everything down. Loux stayed in for the fourth inning.
Loux gave up a two-out single to Ramon Castro in the fourth, but that was it. Loux pounded the strike zone and threw 15 pitches in the fourth, 10 for strikes. In his two innings of work, Loux threw 31 pitches, 20 for strikes.
Dale Sveum emptied his bench in the fifth. Brian Bogusevic (1B), Edwin Maysonet (2B), Logan Watkins (SS), Brent Lillibridge (3B), Jorge Soler (LF), Dave Sappelt (CF), Brett Jackson (RF) and Steve Clevenger (C) took over for the starting eight.
Robert Whitenack replaced Loux in the fifth, and struggled mightily in his spring debut. Whitenack appeared very uncomfortable on the mound … and his performance backs up the statement. Whitenack labored through his two-thirds of an inning on Monday afternoon. Whitenack was charged with three runs on no hits with two walks, a strikeout, a wild pitch and a balk. Whitenack threw 23 pitches, eight for strikes.
Michael Bowden recorded the last out in the fifth, but balked in a run that Dave McKay was not happy about. Bowden did not appear to balk, and looked into the Cubs’ dugout after the call was made. Bowden shrugged his shoulders as McKay gave the homeplate ump an ear full. Matt Wallach ended up flying out to right to end the inning. Bowden threw five pitches in the fifth, three for strikes.
Bowden stayed in and pitched the sixth. Bowden was sharp, and threw 20 pitches, 15 for strikes, without allowing a run.
Brian Schlitter made the 40 minute trip from Mesa to Glendale on Monday, and really struggled with his command. Jorge Soler was able to show off his arm with a perfect strike from the left field corner that almost kept Moore from leading off the inning with a double. Before Schlitter could record three outs, the Dodgers’ minor leaguers tied the game on three hits and a walk.
The Cubs had a chance to plate runs in the eighth after back-to-back singles by Steve Clevenger and Brent Lillibridge. But with runners on second and third with one out, Logan Watkins struck out swinging and Edwin Maysonet grounded out to third to end the inning.
Dontrelle Willis Warming Up
Dontrelle Willis made his Cubs’ debut on Monday afternoon … and ended up being hung with the loss. Willis faced only one batter before he left with game with shoulder soreness. Willis issued a free pass to Nick Evans and threw a pitch to Hector Luna before Dale Sveum and the trainer made their way to the mound. Willis left the game and was replaced by Jensen Lewis after only seven pitches.
Jensen Lewis struggled at first and allowed the go ahead run to score before he settled down and put together a good inning.
The Cubs had a chance to tie up the spring game in the ninth. Johermyn Chavez led off the ninth with a hard single to right. Sveum sent Matt Szczur into run for him. Szczur stayed put during Brett Jackson’s at bat, Jackson struck out. On the first pitch to Dave Sappelt, Szczur took off for second. Szczur got a bad jump, looked like he was running in sand, and was thrown out easily. Sappelt grounded out to second to end the game.
The Cubs host the Rockies at HoHoKam Park on Tuesday afternoon. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to make his Cubs’ debut and will face Jhoulys Chacin.