Spring Training Game Thirteen – Cubs 2, Rangers 3
WP – Robbie Ross (1-0) LP – Hisanori Takahashi (0-1) Save – Johan Yan (1)
Dale Sveum finally received a solid performance from his pitching staff, but the offense could not come up with a hit late in the game and the Cubs lost for the sixth time in their last seven Cactus League games.
A lineup without Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano or Anthony Rizzo went just 1-for-10 with RISP and left six on base Wednesday afternoon in Surprise. Scott Hairston (1-for-3 with a home run) hit his first home run of the spring with two outs in the first that gave the Cubs a brief lead. Brian Bogusevic (1-for-2 with a double and a RBI) stayed hot and drove in the Cubs second run in the sixth inning. David DeJesus (1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) collected his first hit of the spring (0-for-10 prior) while Junior Lake (2-for-3 with a triple) added two hits to his spring resume. In the end, it was the Cubs inability to put the ball in play late in the game that cost them.
The Cubs offense scored two runs on seven hits with two walks and nine strikeouts on the afternoon.
Hisanori Takahashi got the start on Wednesday. The Cubs are looking at Takahashi for one of the three available spots in the bullpen. Takahashi could end up as the second lefty as well as the long reliever until Matt Garza or Scott Baker is ready to join the rotation. Takahashi completed three innings of work on Wednesday and allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Takahashi struggled against the lefties in the Rangers’ lineup and served up a solo home run to Lance Berkman in the third inning.
Michael Bowden threw the ball extremely well in his fourth appearance of the spring. Bowden allowed only one hit while facing the minimum in his inning of work. Jaye Chapman and Trey McNutt also pitched a scoreless inning.
Hector Rondon has been as advertised so far this spring. Rondon surrendered in a hit in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game but also struck out a batter while not issuing a free pass. In four games this spring, Rondon has given up two hits with no walks and two strikeouts over four shutout innings.
While the Cubs could not put a spring win on the board, the pitching performances turned in on Wednesday by three relievers that will likely be in the Cubs’ pen on Opening Day was more than welcomed.
David DeJesus ended a 0-for-10 slump in the first inning of Wednesday’s game. DeJesus singled to left but was erased when Dave Sappelt hit the first pitch he saw to Profar at short … 6-4-3 double play. Scott Hairston followed with a home run to left center (2-2 pitch) and gave the Cubs an early lead. McDonald grounded out to third to end the inning.
Hisanori Takahashi struggled in the first inning but the Rangers did not put a ball in play. Takahashi walked Ian Kinsler to start the game, but Navarro threw him out at second with Julio Borbon at the plate. Takahashi struck out Borbon swinging. Lance Berkman worked a walk (3-1) before Adrian Beltre struck out swinging to end the inning.
Junior Lake tripled (right center) with two outs in the second … but Edwin Maysonet grounded out to first to end the inning.
The Rangers jumped on Takahashi in the second inning with three straight hits from left handed batters. David Murphy singled to right. A.J. Pierzynski singled to right and Mitch Moreland singled to center. Murphy scored and tied the game at one. Craig Gentry tried to bunt both runners up ninety feet. Navarro picked up the bunt, threw to third and forced Pierzynski for the first out. Jurickson Profar reached on an infield single to third to load the bases with one only one down. Ian Kinsler hit a sac fly to right. Moreland tagged and scored, 2-1 Rangers. Gentry and Profar also tagged and advanced to second and third. Julio Borbon grounded out to second to end the inning.
Takahashi served up the solo homer to Lance Berkman leading off the third (1-1 pitch). Takahashi then struck out two of the next three batters he faced to end his afternoon.
Other than a leadoff single by Moreland in the fourth, Michael Bowden was very good. Moreland was erased on a 5-4-3 double play and Bowden ended up facing the minimum over his two innings of work.
The Cubs cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 in the sixth. David DeJesus led off the sixth with a walk and scored all the way from first when Brian Bogusevic pulled a 1-0 pitch from Alexi Ogando into the gap in right center. Bogusevic ended up a second with a double … but Scott Hairston, Darnell McDonald and Javier Baez struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs wasted another chance in the seventh to either tie the game or take the lead. Dioner Navarro walked and took second on a wild pitch from Ogando. Junior Lake reached on an infield single to short, Lake beat the throw from Profar. An errant pickoff attempt at second base put runners on second and third with no outs … but Edwin Maysonet popped out to shallow center, Steve Clevenger struck out swinging after just missing a single that would have given the Cubs the leaf … and Jorge Soler looked at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Cubs host the White Sox on Thursday afternoon … Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to face Jose Quintana.