Baez Goes Yard, Cubs Can’t Finish Off Rockies and Drop Another Spring Game – Rockies 9, Cubs 6

Spring Training Game Twenty-Three – Cubs 6, Rockies 9

WP – Ryan Arrowood (1-0) LP – Paolo Espino (0-1, BS 1) Save – None

The Cubs were down 5-2 going into the eighth inning. Javier Baez hit a mammoth shot to straight away center off of Rob Scahill that started the comeback. The Cubs scored three runs in the ninth and took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the inning. But minor leaguer Paolo Espino gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth and the Cubs lost the exhibition game in Scottsdale.

The Cubs offense managed only four hits before the ninth inning and ended up with eight for the game. Emilio Bonifacio (1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored) and Darwin Barney (1-for-2 with a double and a RBI) was the Cubs’ offense until Baez’s blast in the eighth. Bonifacio manufactured a run with his legs in the first inning and scored on Barney’s double in the fifth.

Javier Baez (1-for-2 with a home run) made it 5-3 in the eighth with his fifth home of the spring. Baez hit a solo homer to centerfield that traveled an estimated 452 feet. The Cubs scored three runs in the ninth. Luis Valbuena (1-for-4 with a home run) hit his second longball of the spring. And Chris Valaika (1-for-2 with a RBI) singled in the tying run with Chris Coghlan (1-for-2 with a run scored) scoring the go ahead run after the Rockies’ shortstop threw the ball away.

The Cubs scored six runs on eight hits with six walks and nine strikeouts on Wednesday night.

Carlos Villanueva pitched better than his final line indicates. Villanueva made only one mistake in his four innings of work and Carlos Gonzalez deposited it beyond the wall in right center. Villanueva struck out eight batters in his four innings of work while walking only one batter. Villanueva gave up three runs on three hits and pitched rather well against the Rockies everyday lineup.

Jose Veras and Pedro Strop each gave up a run in their one inning of work. Veras balked in the run he allowed. Wesley Wright and Hector Rondon were very good in the seventh and eighth innings.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 10-13 in the Cactus League.

Scoring Plays

Emilio Bonifacio manufactured the game’s first run. Bonifacio worked a walk to start the game. With Darwin Barney at the plate, a wild pickoff throw to first base allowed Bonifacio to advance all the way to third base. Barney grounded out to third. Bonifacio held at third after just getting back to the bag ahead of a tag attempt by Nolan Arenado. Justin Ruggiano rolled one out to D.J. LeMahieu at second base. Bonifacio took off for the plate and slide in safe, 1-0 Cubs. Ruggiano reached first on the fielder’s choice but was thrown out at second when Anthony Rizzo swung through a 2-2 pitch from Franklin Morales.

The game remained 1-0 Cubs until the bottom of the third.

Carlos Villanueva struck out four batters in the first two innings and retired D.J. LeMahieu on a pop up to Rizzo to start the third inning. Franklin Morales sliced a 2-2 pitch down the left field line. Ruggiano raced toward the line but the ball hit off his glove and bounced over the short-wall for a ground rule double. Charlie Blackmon followed with a line drive single into center. Morales held at third with one out. Villanueva caught Michael Cuddyer looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Villanueva fell begin Carlos Gonzalez 2-0, then 3-1 before he left a 3-2 pitch out over the plate that Gonzalez smacked into the berm in right center … 3-1 Colorado. Villanueva retired Troy Tulowitzki on a pop out to Barney for the third out.

LaTroy Hawkins replaced Franklin Morales for the fifth inning and retired Kottaras on a foul out to Rosario behind the plate for the first out. Minor Leaguer Jordan Hankins hit for Villanueva and rapped out to LeMahieu for the second out. Emilio Bonifacio chopped a 1-1 pitch over the mound. Tulowitzki tried to barehand the ball but could not get a handle and Bonifacio reached with the Cubs’ second hit of the night. Darwin Barney blooped a 1-1 pitch down the right field line. Bonifacio scored all the way from first on Barney’s double, 3-2 Colorado. Ruggiano flied out to right for the third out.

The Rockies added to their lead in the fifth. Jose Veras gave up a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu. Veras struck out pinch-hitter Jackson Williams for the first out. LeMahieu swiped second on the first pitch to Blackmon and stole third on the second pitch to Blackmon. With the infield in, Veras struck out Blackmon swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out. Before the first pitch to Michael Cuddyer, Veras was called for a balk. LeMahieu trotted in, 4-2 Rockies. Cuddyer grounded out to third to end the inning.

The Rockies tacked on another run in the sixth. Pedro Strop issued back-to-back walks to Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to start the inning. Morneau grounded out to a diving Luis Valbuena in the 5.5 hole. Tulowitzki was forced at second for the first out. With runners on the corners and one down, Wilin Rosario lifted Strop’s first pitch into center. Gonzalez tagged and scored, 5-2 Rockies. Strop retired Arenado on a grounder to third for the last out in the sixth.

The game remained 5-2 Colorado until Javier Baez destroyed a 1-2 pitch from Rob Scahill in the top of the eighth inning. The ball traveled an estimated 452 feet to straight away center and his fifth longball of the spring made it 5-3 Rockies.

Luis Valbuena launched his second home run of the spring in the ninth inning that made it 5-4 Colorado. Anthony Giansanti followed Valbuena’s home run with a single to right. Chris Coghlan singled to left center and the speedy, minor leaguer Giansanti motored to third base. Mike Olt walked to load the bases with one out. Greg Burke got the grounder he needed but Rafael Ynoa threw wide of the second base bag after he made a diving stop in the hole. Giansanti and Coghlan scored, 6-5 Cubs. With runners on the corners and one out, Javier Baez struck out swinging (2-2 pitch). Ryan Roberts walked to load the bases. Walt Weiss went to his pen for Ryan Arrowhead. Minor Leaguer Oliver Zapata grounded out to second to end the inning.

Paolo Espino took the hill in the ninth for the Cubs and the one run lead quickly evaporated. Jordan Pacheco singled to left. Ryan Wheeler doubled to left center. Espino intentionally walked Rafael Ynoa. Espino struck out Matt McBride swinging but Charlie Culberson lifted a fly ball into center. Coghlan caught the ball, Pacheco tagged and scored … game tied at six. Charlie Blackmon then ended the game with one swing of the bat, a three-run homer to right.

Pitching

Carlos Villanueva threw the ball extremely well on Wednesday night. Villanueva made just one mistake in his four innings of work. Villanueva struck out eight batters and while the Rockies worked the count, Villanueva made the pitches he needed to with one exception. Villanueva allowed three runs on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in four innings.

Jose Veras hit his spots during his inning of work. Veras made three mistakes in the inning. He forgot about D.J. LeMahieu twice, on back to back pitches, and balked him in for the Rockies fourth run. Veras struck out two of the four batters he faced.

Pedro Strop issued back-to-back walks to Gonzalez and Tulowitzki to start his outing and the free passes cost him and the Cubs a run. Strop has an electric arm, but must throw strikes. Strop did not on Wednesday night.

Wesley Wright was very good in the seventh and so was Hector Rondon in the eighth. Both relievers retired the side in order in their one inning of work.

The Cubs host the Mariners on Thursday afternoon. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Erasmo Ramirez.

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  • Tony_H

    I posted this article last night on George Springer turning down a 7 year $23M contract while in the minors last fall. Here it is again.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/in-era-of-safety-pitchers-remain-dangerously-exposed-031914

    It makes me wonder if this will be a new negotiating angle with top prospects. Now, I know some will think this is out of line and wrong. Sorry, the game and the cost of players has changed to the point where all teams consider these things when making decisions as to when is the right time to call up a prospect.

    With that thought in mind, could the Cubs use this tactic with Baez, Bryant, etc to get them to sign a team friendly contract. I talked about this with Appel before the draft. Getting your clock started is almost as important as how much you make to get to FA. If a player has a $23M contract that covers 7 years and allows them to be a FA at 27, 28 why say no? Enough money for your grandkids to be set, and a chance to be a FA when you can absolutely maximize the contract where you make the most money. Plus not having to deal with this issue for awhile and be able to just play baseball.

    Sounds like a win/win for me. Team gets a top prospect under contract for 6-7 years, that is ready to be called up at a risk less than what the Top IFA cost and the player is set for life and able to get their clock moving towards FA and their big payday.