Samardzija Tunes Up, Cubs Offense Tunes Out – Mariners 3, Cubs 0

Spring Training Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 0, Mariners 3

WP – Erasmo Ramirez (3-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (0-1) Save – Yoervis Medina (2)

In front of a record crowd of 15,243 at Cubs Park and numerous scouts on hand to watch Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs were shutout for the third time this spring. Cubs’ pitching limited Seattle to three runs on eight hits with three walks but the offense managed only four hits and one walk against Mariners’ pitching.

Jeff Samardzija put together his best outing of the spring in what will end up being his longest appearance in the Cactus League. Samardzija was unable to complete a full six innings due to his pitch count. Samardzija struck out eight batters over 5 1/3 innings while issuing two walks and throwing two wild pitches. Samardzija’s second wild pitch of the day ended up costing him a run in the fifth inning. Samardzija surrendered two runs on six hits, with help from Junior Lake taking a two-run home run away from Logan Morrison. Samardzija will back down his pitch count (50-60) in his last spring start in five days.

James Russell struggled during his short outing (two thirds of an inning). Russell gave up a hit and walked a batter while allowing an inherited runner to score that closed the book on Jeff Samardzija.

Arodys Vizcaino dominated again with a quick three-up, three-down seventh inning. Blake Parker put together a much-needed 1-2-3 eighth inning. Justin Grimm pitched better than his final line. The Cubs defense failed to turn a double play behind him that led to the Mariners’ third run in the ninth inning. Grimm was charged with one run on one hit.

The Cubs offense was non-existent and managed only four hits and one walk in nine at bats (1-for-3 with RISP, four left on base). Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a stolen base), Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a double), Mike Olt (1-for-3) and Welington Castillo (1-for-3) collected the Cubs’ hits on Thursday afternoon.

Mike Olt started at third base and had only two balls hit his way. Olt caught a popup near the mound and did not make a throw.

With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 10-14 in the Cactus League.

Scoring Plays

The game was scoreless into the fifth inning. Nate Schierholtz made a tremendous headlong, diving catch in right center to take a hit away from John Buck to start the fifth. Abraham Almonte singled to center with one out. With Kyle Seager at the plate, Almonte took off for second base. The ball skipped past Welington Castillo. Almonte ended up at third on Samardzija’s second wild pitch of the afternoon. With the infield in, Seager lifted a 2-0 pitch down the left field line. Junior Lake caught the ball in foul ground, Seager tagged and scored, 1-0 Mariners. Robinson Cano singled to left (1-2 pitch) but Samardzija struck out Justin Smoak swinging to end the inning.

Seattle added to their lead in the sixth inning. Corey Hart led off with a single to left. Samardzija fell behind Logan Morrison 3-0. Morrison appeared to hit a two-run homer to left. But Junior Lake ranged back and made a leaping catch at the wall. Lake took away a homer and helped end Samardzija’s day on a positive note. Rick Renteria made the slow walk and went to his pen for James Russell. Left-handed hitting Dustin Ackley followed with a double to right center. Hart held at third with one out. Russell then walked Nick Franklin to load the bases with one out. John Buck hit a sac fly to center that plated Hart with the Mariners’ second run. Abraham Almonte grounded out to short to end the inning.

The game remained 2-0 until the ninth inning.

Justin Grimm replaced Blake Parker for the ninth inning and gave up a single to Nick Franklin to start the inning. Humberto Quintero then hit a double play ball to second. But the Cubs could not turn the 4-6-3 double play, everyone was safe and the Mariners had two on with no outs. Grimm uncorked a wild pitch with Endy Chavez at the plate that allowed Franklin to advance to third. Chavez grounded out to a diving Chris Valaika at second base. Quintero was forced at second but Franklin scored, 3-0 Seattle. Willie Bloomquist grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs make the trip to Glendale on Friday to take on the White Sox … Chris Rusin versus John Danks in the first round out the spring with the Southsiders.

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