Baez, Soriano and the Cubs Bash the Royals – Cubs 8, Royals 3

Spring Training Game Twenty-Three – Cubs (ss) 8, Royals 3

WP – Hisanori Takahashi (1-1) LP – Bruce Chen (1-1) Save – None

wflag-pubWhile Jeff Samardzija was the story in Las Vegas, the Cubs bats were the show at HoHoKam Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs completed the split squad sweep with a spring win over the Royals behind five home runs off the bats of Javier Baez, Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus and Alberto Gonzalez.

Javier Baez (2-for-3 with two home runs and two RBI) put on a show for the second time in two days. Baez followed up his two-homer performance on Friday against Team Japan with two more majestic blasts on Saturday afternoon. Baez hit his first longball in the first inning that gave him three home runs in three at bats (reportedly on three pitches) dating back to his final two plate appearances on Friday. Baez just missed a fourth straight dinger in the third when he got under a pitch and flied out to deep left. Javier Baez drilled his second homer of the game in the fifth inning over the wall in left … and out of HoHoKam Park.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-2 with a home run, two RBI, a walk and two runs scored) put the Cubs up 3-0 in the first inning with his second homer of the spring. Soriano fell behind Bruce Chen 1-2, worked the count back to full, then launched the Cubs’ second homer of the inning onto the berm in left field.

David DeJesus (1-for-3 with a home run) led off the Cubs’ first inning with a homer to right. The Cubs hit three longballs in the opening inning and five on the day. Alberto Gonzalez took Bruce Chen deep in the fourth inning.

The Cubs offense scored eight runs on 12 hits, six for extra bases, and two walks … and scored in five of their first six at bats. Brent Lillibridge (2-for-3 with a double and a run scored) started at third and had a good day at the plate while Christian Villanueva (1-for-2) collected his first non-homer hit in the Cactus League.

Hisanori Takahashi had a good outing. Takahashi held the Royals to one run on five hits with a walk and a strikeout in four innings. Takahashi made only one mistake in the spring start and Mike Moustakas hit it into the Royals’ bullpen beyond the right field wall.

Michael Bowden pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Takahashi. Bowden gave up a pair of hits, struck out two and did not walk a batter. Shawn Camp struggled with his command and surrendered a run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout. Kyuji Fujikawa gave up the Royals third run in the eighth on a pair of hits.

Carlos Marmol retired all three batters he faced to close out the spring victory for Jamie Quirk.

On the afternoon, Cubs pitching gave up three runs on 11 hits with two walks and four strikeouts … and in 18 innings on Saturday, just three free passes.

The Cubs played a good game against the Royals as well, but this spring game will be remembered for the show that Javier Baez put on.

David DeJesus put the Cubs ahead for good in the first inning. DeJesus pulled a 0-1 pitch from lefty Bruce Chen into the Cubs’ pen beyond the right field wall. Brent Lillibridge followed with a double to right (1-2 pitch). Anthony Rizzo in his first game back from the WBC was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch for the first out.

Alfonso Soriano stepped in and quickly fell behind 1-2. Soriano fouled off a couple of bad pitches and ended up working a full count. Soriano did not miss Chen’s 3-2 pitch and deposited it onto the berm in left … just like that, 3-0 Cubs. Vitters fouled out to first for the second out.

Javier Baez stepped in and crushed Chen’s first pitch. The ball got out of the park in a hurry and the Cubs’ took a 4-0 lead on the third homer of the inning. Jorge Soler just missed a 2-2 pitch and flied out to right to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano walked to start the third. A wild pitch with Vitters at the plate allowed Soriano to advance to second. Baez hit the first pitch he saw to deep left center for the first out. Jorge Soler hit a 2-0 pitch back up the middle. Chen appeared to slow the ball down and Johnny Giavotella barehanded the roller and tried to throw out Soler at first. The throw was off the mark, and Soriano scored, 5-0 Cubs. Soler ended up at second but was stranded when Lopez lined out to right to end the inning.

Mike Moustakas made it 5-1 with his solo homer off Takahashi in the fourth.

Alberto Gonzalez got the Cubs the run right back in the bottom of the fourth when he pulled a 0-1 pitch from Chen down the line in left and onto the berm.

Javier Baez hit his second homer of the game in the fifth … a solo shot off Chen that left the park.

After five complete, the Cubs led the spring game 7-1.

The Cubs’ eighth and final run came in the sixth inning. Rafael Lopez led off with a single to center. Carlos Penalver, up for the day from minor league camp, hit for Gonzalez and flied out to center. Dave Sappelt also flied out to center but Christian Villanueva singled to center with two down.

Justin Bour, up for the day from minor league camp, ripped a 0-2 pitch back up the middle and into center that plated Lopez with the Cubs final run of the game.

Shawn Camp replaced Bowden in the seventh. Christian Colon greeted Camp with a single to center. Camp then walked the free swinging Willy Taveras. Camp caught Adam Moore looking (1-2 pitch) for the first out. Jarrod Dyson then advanced both runners with a swinging bunt up the third baseline. Chris Getz dribbled a 3-2 pitch back up the middle that Baez fielded and made a strong throw to first on, but it was just a little late and Colon scored from third. Seratelli grounded out to Bour at first to end the inning.

Kyuji Fujikawa took over in the eighth. Brandon Wood greeted Fujikawa with a double to center over the head of Pin-Chieh Chen. Endy Chavez flied out to Oliver Zapata in right for the first out. George Kottaras moved Wood to third with a single to right. With runners on first and third with one down, Dave Sappelt tried to make a diving catch in shallow center on a sinking liner off the bat of Christian Colon. Sappelt caught the ball for a split second but the ball popped out of his glove. Kottaras was forced at second for the second out but Wood scored from third to make it 8-3 Cubs. Taveras popped out to Carlos Penalver at second to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Sunday is another split squad day for the Cubs. Carlos Villanueva and half of the Cubs roster will host Robbie Ross and the Rangers at Cashman Field in Las Vegas while Scott Baker will make his Cubs’ debut in Phoenix against Tommy Milone and the A’s.

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  • triple

    If I remember correctly, didn’t the Cardinals put Pujols on the opening day roster after just one year of single A ball in the minors? And wasn’t their need for a 3rd baseman? Or was it outfield? Either way, with Baez’s bat speed, it sure seems like he can learn the game in the majors rather than too much more time in the minor leagues. It’s gonna be hard for the FO to keep him on the slow track if he hit’s the cover off the ball this year in the minors.

    • Richard Hood

      It was a need for a 3rd baseman (they were going to try Bobby Bonilla there but he got hurt in ST).

    • DWalker

      He’s not coming up this year, at least early on for a few reasons. #1 they really don’t want to damage him by going too fast. He may be able to handle it, he may not, but they aren’t going to push it and risk it. #2 He still has issues to work on, yes hes improving fast, but he is still raw, especially defensively though improving. #3 to bring him up he does have to learn a new position. they can talk premium position all they want, but in the bigs he won’t be the cubs SS. #4 People forget how young he is, he really can use time spent conditioning and building towards the rigors of a ML season. The last thing they want is him to break from lack of conditioning. Plus they probably want to spend more time working on young players minds to get them ready. #5 They have no intention of wasting a contract year on this year. That means at the absolute earliest, he MIGHT be called up when rosters expand if they think he’s going to be ready next year. Considering they are planning to be sellers at the trade deadline and be pushing for a top 5, top 10 at the absolute worst pick next draft, They really don’t want to waste a possible future superstars contract years on a another wasted year.

      • triple

        Yes, I agree. But it really wouldn’t surprise me if he does get called up when they can expand their rosters, especially if he has a great season in single A and maybe even some time in AA if they promote him that far. After all, the more of “taste” he gets, the more driven he will become to earn his final callup.

      • Theboardrider

        I totally agree with you. I think they bring him up when rosters expand and he’s next year’s NL ROY. Unless they grt overwhelmed by a trade opportunity. The type that nets 2 top of rotation young starters and good prospects…

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