Cubs Get a Pass Against the Rangers – Cubs 5, Rangers 4

Spring Training Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs 5, Rangers 4

WP – Shawn Camp (1-0) LP – Johan Yan (0-1) Save – Blake Parker (2)

wflag-pubThe Cubs were able to squeak past the Rangers on Tuesday afternoon at HoHoKam Park, and ended up splitting their spring games against Texas with Tuesday’s win. The difference in the game was a passed ball in the sixth inning that allowed Welington Castillo to score the eventual winning run.

Chris Rusin was roughed up early on, but found a groove over his last two innings of work and retired the last seven batters he faced. Rusin struggled with his command early and fell behind often. Rusin gave up two runs in the first and two more in the second and if not for two defensive plays behind him by Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano, chances are his final line would look a lot different.

Chris Rusin allowed four runs on seven hits with a hit batsman with four strikeouts. Rusin did not walk a single batter, which also helped him limit the damage in the first two innings.

The Cubs relievers were lights out on Tuesday. The Rangers managed only two baserunners after a Mitch Moreland single in the third inning. James Russell walked a batter in the eighth and Blake Parker surrendered an infield single in the ninth.

Shawn Camp pitched a perfect sixth and was the benefactor of the passed ball in the home half of the inning. Carlos Marmol put together a 1-2-3 seventh inning and James Russell pitched around the two-out walk in the eighth. Blake Parker picked up his second spring save with a scoreless ninth.

On the afternoon, Cubs pitching allowed four runs on eight hits with a hit batsman, one walk and seven strikeouts.

The Cubs offense stepped up early in what appeared was going to be one of those days in the Cactus League. The Cubs took advantage of a botched would-be double play and scored three runs in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with a sac fly RBI) plated David DeJesus (2-for-3 with a run scored) with a sac fly to left in the first. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) gave the Cubs a brief 3-2 lead with his third homer of the spring, a mammoth two-run shot over the wall in left … and the ball reportedly ended up in the parking lot. Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a home run) tied the game in the second inning with his first dinger of the spring.

Starlin Castro (1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base) reached base in all three plate appearances on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cubs offense was pretty quiet after the Barney homer in the second. But their patience paid off as Welington Castillo (0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) worked a walk to start the sixth and eventually scored the winning run.

For the day, the Cubs scored five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts … and hit two more home runs. The Cubs are second in all of baseball in home runs this spring (37) trailing only the Seattle Mariners.

Dale Sveum’s Opening Day lineup had a good day against a solid pitcher in Alexi Ogando … and the entire lineup appeared to be selectively aggressive in the spring victory.

Chris Rusin retired Ian Kinsler on a grounder to third to start the game (1-0 pitch). Rusin then jumped ahead of Craig Gentry 0-2 before hitting him on the next pitch. David Murphy followed with a singled to center. Gentry advanced to third with one out. Adrian Beltre drove a 1-2 pitch out to right. Nate Schierholtz made a diving catch toward the line. Gentry scored but Schierholtz helped limit the damage in the first inning because A.J. Pierzynski followed with a double to right. Murphy scored from first and the Rangers took a 2-0 lead. Mitch Moreland popped out to Castro (2-2 pitch) in shallow left to end the inning.

David DeJesus extended his spring hitting streak to eight games with a single to left. Starlin Castro followed and pulled a 1-2 pitch toward short. What should have been a double play and two outs, turned into first and third with no outs for the Cubs after Luis Sardinas booted the ball.

Anthony Rizzo stepped in with runners on first and third with no outs, and drove a 0-1 pitch to left. DeJesus tagged and scored, 2-1 Rangers. Alfonso Soriano then launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left. Soriano’s third of the spring gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Schierholtz grounded out to short and Welington Castillo was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

Jeff Baker cranked up the two-run rally for the Rangers in the second inning. Baker pulled a 1-2 pitch into left for a one-out single. Sardinas followed with a single to center. With runners on first and second with one out, Ian Kinsler pulled a 1-2 pitch into left. Baker scored on Kinsler’s single to tie the game at three. Craig Gentry singled to center (2-1 pitch) to load the bases with one down.

David Murphy hit a 1-0 pitch to left. The ball was deep enough for Sardinas to tag and score from third. All three Rangers’ runners tagged … and Soriano threw out Gentry at second, just after the run scored, to end the inning.

Darwin Barney knotted the game at four with one out in the bottom of the third. Barney launched hit first homer of the spring over the wall in left.

The Cubs put two on in the third after a leadoff walk by Starlin Castro and a two out walk from Nate Schierholtz. But David Murphy made a diving catch in left center to take away a hit and at least one RBI from Welington Castillo.

Welington Castillo was in the middle of the action in the sixth. Castillo walked to start the inning then advanced to second on a Luis Valbuena single. Darwin Barney rapped into a 5-4-3 double play. Castillo advanced to third, but with two down. Scott Hairston hit for Navarro … and Yan uncorked a wild pitch that would be ruled a passed ball. Castillo lumbered home the eventual winning run.

Wednesday is the Cubs’ last off day in the Cactus League … the Cubs next day off will be on Sunday, March 31, before opening the season the next day in Pittsburgh. The Cubs play their last split squad games of the spring on Thursday. Scott Feldman and half of the Cubs roster will make the trip to Tucson to take on the Dodgers (3:05pm CDT) while Jeff Samardzija and the other half of the team will face the Mariners in Peoria on Thursday night (9:05pm CDT).

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver