A Little Two-Out Spring Magic – Cubs 5, Dodgers 4

Spring Training Game Fifteen – Cubs 5, Dodgers 4

WP – Carlos Villanueva (1-0) LP – Jamey Wright (1-1) Save – Alberto Cabrera (2)

wflag-pub2014The Cubs scored four runs in the sixth inning, all with two outs, and held on to beat the Dodgers 5-4 on Friday afternoon in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 15,191 at Cubs Park.

Kyle Hendricks tossed three innings of shutout ball in his third start of the spring. Hendricks surrendered just an infield single and walked a batter while striking out four.

Carlos Villanueva picked up the spring win after allowing one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts over three innings in relief of Hendricks. Jose Veras was hit pretty hard in the seventh and allowed the Dodgers to score two runs on three hits. Veras struck out a batter and did not issue a free pass.

Neil Ramirez completed a scoreless inning in the eighth and Alberto Cabrera served up a solo home run to Drew Butera in the ninth. Cubs’ pitching limited many of the Dodgers’ regulars to four runs on nine hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

Nate Schierholtz (2-for-2 with a double and a walk) and Luis Valbuena (1-for-2 with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored and a walk) put together good performances Friday afternoon. Valbuena walked and scored the tying run in the fifth inning on a groundout by George Kottaras (0-for-1 with a RBI and a walk). Schierholtz started the four-run rally in the sixth with a two-out double and Valbuena capped the sixth with a two-run home run, his first longball of the spring.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk) had another good game at the plate and in the field … and so did Justin Ruggiano (1-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored). Rizzo drove in pinch-runner Ryan Kalish (Kalish ran for Schierholtz following the double) with the go ahead run. Rizzo advanced to second on Yasiel Puig’s throwing error. Chris Valaika ran for Rizzo and scored the Cubs’ third run on a single by Ruggiano.

The Cubs scored five runs on eight hits with five walks and improved to 7-8 in the Cactus League with Friday’s victory over the Dodgers.

Scoring Plays

The Dodgers scored first on Friday afternoon following a one-out double by Miguel Rojas in the fifth. Chris O’Brien hit for Paco Rodriguez and flied out to center for the second out. Rojas swiped third with Gordon at the plate then trotted in when Dee Gordon lashed a triple into right. Villanueva retired Carl Crawford on a flyout to Ruggiano in left to end the inning.

The Cubs tied the game at one in the bottom of the fifth. Luis Valbuena walked on four-pitches to start the inning. Javy Guerra gave up a single to Donnie Murphy. With runners on the corners and no outs, George Kottaras grounded out to first. Gonzalez fielded the ball and forced Murphy at second as Valbuena scored from third. Darwin Barney hit into his second double play of the game to end the inning.

Nate Schierholtz doubled to right with two outs in the sixth. Ryan Kalish ran for Schierholtz and scored when Anthony Rizzo ripped a 0-2 pitch from Jamey Wright into right field. Puig tried to throw out Kalish at the plate. Puig airmailed his throw. Rizzo advanced to second and Puig’s over-aggressiveness cost the Dodgers once again. Chris Valaika ran for Rizzo and scored when Justin Ruggiano singled to center. Ruggiano scored when Luis Valbuena took Wright deep to right center … 5-1 Cubs. Murphy struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Dodgers started chipping away at the Cubs lead in the seventh. A.J. Ellis blooped a single into center to start the inning. Miguel Rojas doubled to right, and it should have been a RBI triple, but Ellis stopped at third. Veras caught Joc Pederson looking at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Alex Guerrero doubled to left center. Ellis and Rojas scored, 5-3 Cubs. Before a 2-0 pitch to Carl Crawford, Veras turned and threw to Javier Baez covering second. Baez applied the tag on Guerrero, inning over.

The Dodgers made it 5-4 with one down in the ninth when Drew Butera launched a 3-2 pitch from Alberto Cabrera over the wall in center and into the batter’s eye. Cabrera struck out Seager and Pederson swinging to end the game.

Pitching

Kyle Hendricks set the tone for the afternoon. Hendricks clearly put together his best outing of the spring while facing several players from the Dodgers’ everyday line-up. Hendricks gave up an infield single to Dee Gordon to start the game, but that was all. Hendricks hit his spots and the Dodgers made weak contact when the ball was put in play. Hendricks issued one free pass and struck out four batters in three innings. Hendricks set down the side in order in the third inning.

Carlos Villanueva had a good outing and did his job. Villanueva limited the Dodgers to one run on three hits in three innings. Villanueva got his work in and stayed in the mix for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation.

The Dodgers hit Jose Veras rather hard. And chances are that Veras will have similar outings when the season begins until the Cubs move him in July. Veras gave up two runs on three hits while recording only two outs. Veras picked off Alex Guerrero from second base to end the inning.

Neil Ramirez worked out of a slight jam in the eighth by retiring Puig and Adrian Gonzalez with a runner on third. Alberto Cabrera showed off his good stuff once again. Cabrera served up a solo home run in the ninth but closed out the game on a positive note by striking out both Corey Seager and Joc Pederson (the Dodgers top two prospects) swinging to end the game.

Saturday is the first of three straight split squad days for the Cubs. Tsuyoshi Wada will face Bartolo Colon and the Mets in Las Vegas while Jeff Samardzija makes a start in Surprise against James Shields and the Royals.

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  • Tom U

    Typical performance by Cabrera. It’s what I have been seeing out of him for the past four seasons.

    • Tony_H

      What would be your call on Cabrera? Keep him on the 25 man roster or risk losing him? And do you think he would be claimed?

      • Tom U

        Risk losing him. I’ve never been a fan of Cabrera, whose stats always seemed skewed by leaving messes for others to clean up,.With his stuff, someone will take a flier on him, but he may never match his potential.

        • BillyFinT

          Tom, seems that our nice guy Maples is still tied to Blackburn. What will you do if in the very end, the #10 and #11 are tied by votes?

          • Tom U

            That depends. Both would be covered to start the season, as Eloy Jimenez probably won’t start playing in meaningful games until June. Also, sometimes injuries play a part.

            If I had my own preference, I would not cover Maples. He has been a part of the top prospect list the last two seasons, and hasn’t shown he deserves the recognition.

          • SuzyS

            Tom, do you have any thoughts on Ryan Searle…or is he dead in the water as a prospect/suspect???

          • Tom U

            Right now, Searle is practicing with the Iowa squad, which means he may be slated for Tennessee. Then it depends on how they want to use him. Most likely, Searle will end up in the bullpen.

        • Tony_H

          I tend to agree, unless Villanueva starts out in the rotation opening up another bullpen spot, I would risk losing him.

      • mutantbeast

        Let him go. Hes what he is, gets ahead, then hes afraid to trust his stuff. Its not an issue of stuff with Cabrera, its his makeup.

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  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Olt and Rizzo all hitting…so far. If even moderate improvement happens like I’ve suggested it could and Olt shows up, that alone will make us much better than last year.

    There are things to be excited about this season.

    • mutantbeast

      Boat, at the max I see this team as a 70-75 win team , and they need a lot to go right to get that far. I dont look for contention as much as I look for who is the leader and how much improvement they make as the season goes along. Our core kids need a vet to show them how to win at this level.

      • SuzyS

        mutant, I tend to agree with you…with one caveat…This will be an optimistic season.
        By that I mean it will be fun watching the development of all the prospects…and those that finally begin to filter in to the mlb level.
        To me, it’s much better than watching a Hendry team full of overpriced, locked in and under-performing players.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        I agree Beast. I’m just saying maybe 6-8 more wins, 10 at most. They won’t contend. But they’ll be funner to watch and we’ll see some of the future happening before our eyes. And if they do get more production I expect we’ll get some nice prospects at the deadline. And I believe near MLB ready pitching prospects. I still believe Castro goes in a package for a Bradley/Edwards/extra player type deal. Of course of Castro is hitting, which I think he will.

        • mutantbeast

          True, they will be more enjoyable. Certainly Baez, Bryant and Almora appear ready to be impact big leaguers.