Cubs Hammered Late in Baker’s Spring Debut – Cubs 6, Athletics 12

Spring Training Game Twenty-Five – Cubs (ss) 6, Athletics 12

WP – Sean Doolittle (2-0) LP – Jason Berken (0-1) Save – Mike Ekstrom (1)

The Athletics played longball on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix. Oakland hit four home runs, two by Adam Rosales, off Cubs’ pitching on Sunday afternoon and scored 12 runs on 15 hits. The Cubs tied the game in the sixth on a two-run homer off the bat of Brent Lillibridge but the A’s put six runs on the board in their final two at bats and walked away with the spring victory.

Scott Baker made his Cubs’ debut on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix and while the results might not have been what he was looking for, at least he was on a big league mound again. Baker hit his pitch count limit with one out in the first inning after allowing three runs on three hits with a pair of walks. Chris Young hit a long homer off Baker that accounted for all three runs. Baker threw 23 pitches, 12 for strikes, in his first action in a Major League game since September of 2011.

Casey Coleman took over for Baker and did not allow any runs in his 1 2/3 innings. Cory Wade was shelled in his two innings of work. Wade allowed three runs on three hits with a walk, a hit batsman and a strikeout. Rafael Dolis pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings before a blister on his index finger cut his outing short. Jason Berken, up for the day from minor league camp, gave up two more runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings … and was hung with the loss. Jensen Lewis struggled again and surrendered three runs on two hits with a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Dave Sappelt (2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and a stolen base) had a huge game at the plate and in the field. Sappelt put the Cubs on the board with a solo homer in the second and added a two-run single in the fourth. Sappelt swiped a base and made a couple of very good plays in the field.

Brent Lillibridge (2-for-3 with a home run, a double, two RBI and two runs scored) got his first start in the outfield and responded with a big day at the dish. Lillibridge doubled and scored on Sappelt’s single in the fourth and tied the game with a two-run shot in the sixth.

Javier Baez (2-for-5 with a double and a RBI) doubled in David DeJesus (1-for-4 with a run scored) in the fifth.

Offensively, the Cubs scored six runs on 12 hits with only one walk and were 1-for-9 with RISP and left five on base.

Welington Castillo (0-for-3) was solid behind the plate again and threw out another runner at second base.

Sunday in Phoenix was more about Scott Baker making his Cubs’ debut than the Cactus League game … but it was good to see Dave Sappelt and Brent Lillibridge have good at bats against southpaws.

Javier Baez put together an excellent at bat in the first inning. Baez showed patience, worked the count to 3-2 then changed his approach at the plate. Baez singled to center with one down. Anthony Rizzo then drove a 3-0 pitch to deep center. Baez went half way, went back to tag and appeared to advance to second base. On appeal it was ruled that Baez left too early … replays showed that Baez timed it perfectly and should have advanced to second base.

Scott Baker made his Cubs’ debut … and reached his pitch count limit before he could record three outs.

Eric Sogard led off with a single to center (2-1 pitch). Baker walked Shane Peterson (3-2 pitch) to put runners on first and second with no outs. Chris Young pulled a 0-2 pitch over the wall in left … 3-0 Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes flied out (1-0 pitch) but Brandon Moss singled to right on a 0-1 pitch. Baker then walked John Jaso (3-2 pitch) to end his outing.

Casey Coleman took over with runners on first and second with one out. Josh Donaldson tapped back to the mound. Coleman bobbled the ball and settled for the sure out at first. With runners on second and third with two down, Nakajima flied out to right center to end the inning.

Dave Sappelt made it 3-1 in the second with a solo homer to left off of Tommy Milone.

Casey Coleman pitched a scoreless second inning, but the A’s tacked onto their lead in the third against Cory Wade.

Wade plunked Yoenis Cespedes to start the third. Welington Castillo then threw a strike to Baez covering second to cut down Cespedes. Moss doubled to right center on a 3-2 pitch. Wade then walked John Jaso to put runners on first and second with one down. Josh Donaldson launched a 2-0 pitch over the wall in center … 6-1 Athletics. Wade retired the next two batters to end the inning.

The Cubs started chipping away at the five-run lead in the fourth. Anthony Rizzo singled to left with one out. After Soriano lined out to left (2-2 pitch), Brent Lillibridge blooped a 0-1 pitch down the right field line. Rizzo ended up a third on the two-out double by Lillibridge.

Dave Sappelt stepped in and ripped a 0-2 pitch from Milone into center. Rizzo and Lillibridge scored, 6-3 Athletics. Sappelt swiped second with Castillo at the plate but the Cubs’ catcher flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Cory Wade kept the A’s off the board in the fourth.

Communication problems by Chris Young and Michael Taylor led the Cubs’ fourth run in the fifth. David DeJesus reached on a two-out gift single. DeJesus hit a routine fly into right center that Young thought Taylor had. DeJesus then scored on a double to the right field corner off the bat of Javier Baez. Milone was lifted for Hideki Okajima and Rizzo popped out to short to end the inning.

Rafael Dolis pitched around a two-out single by Donaldson in the fifth without allowing any runs.

Alfonso Soriano led off the sixth with a single to center … then trotted around the bases after Brent Lillibridge crushed a 1-2 pitch from Okajima. The ball sailed over the wall in left and tied the game at six. Sappelt (flyout to left), Castillo (flyout to left) and Villanueva (pop out to third) went down in order to end the inning.

Rafael Dolis left the game with one out in the sixth with a blister. Jason Berken, up for the day from minor league camp, got out of the inning without allowing the go ahead run.

The Cubs were not able to cash in a leadoff double by Alberto Gonzalez in the seventh … and Jason Berken served up the go ahead blast to Adam Rosales in the bottom of the inning. Rosales launched a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left and put the A’s ahead 8-6.

The A’s added four runs in the eighth against Jensen Lewis and Steve Perakslis. Adam Rosales hit his second two-run homer in two innings … and just like that it was 12-6 Athletics.

The Cubs put two on in the ninth, but Javier Baez grounded out to first to end the game.

The Cubs play only one game on Monday. Edwin Jackson will take on Clayton Richard and the Padres in Peoria.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/jchickenlegs paul john catanese

    Even though it’s only Spring Training and nothing counts, I would have to say that the bat control that Baez has shown is better than another shortstop thats around. I havent seen Baez chase pitches 3 feet out of the zone. It’s going to be hard to keep this kid down on the farm.

    • Tony_Hall

      He might not walk a lot yet, but he does seem to know the strike zone….strike zone to him means the area that if the ball enters he strikes it very hard and runs around the bases.

      Paul – I would think you will really like this kid, as he hits the ball over 400 feet and yet was running out of the box. I think he has learned some very good lessons so far.

      • DWalker

        I absolutly love that description of his strike zone!

        • Tony_Hall

          Thanks! He looks to be worth the price of admission.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jchickenlegs paul john catanese

        Agree Tony, after not being so high on him at the start, he is fast tracking and changing my mind.
        And it’s good to have a little QB contraversy at the SS position, keeps us all young and ready to blog.

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