Game Twenty-Three: Cubs 1 Rangers 5
The Cubs could not get the offense going on Friday night under the lights in Surprise, Arizona. Rangers’ starting pitcher R.A. Dickey made them wish they had stayed in Mesa. R.A. Dickey has not had a good Major League career, but on Friday night the Cubs made him look like Phil Niekro. The Cubs only managed 3 hits against the knuckleballer in 6 strong shutout innings (one of his pitches registered at 52 MPH on the radar gun); the only walk he gave up was to Juan Pierre. The lone Cubs’ run was a solo shot in the 8th inning by Luis Montanez. The Cubs did not show any patience at the plate and the mental errors were back on Friday as well.
Carlos Zambrano got off to a fast start, retiring the first five batters he faced….including 2 of his 5 strike outs on the night, then Kevin Mench stepped to the plate…. Kevin Mench was the thorn in Zambrano’s side on Friday night. Mench hit a solo home run in the 1st inning….and later added a double and a single to give him a 3 for 3 night. Mench’s double in the 6th could have been avoided if the young infield of McGehee, Theriot and Restovich could have turned the double play. They gave the Rangers an extra out and Zambrano paid for it. Zambrano faced two more batters before a long fly ball out on a good play by Felix Pie ended the inning. Zambrano started strong but started falling behind the hitters as the game wore on. Zambrano finished the night going 6 innings, giving up 4 runs; he struck out 5 and walked one.
Zambrano was a victim of 2 bad defensive plays, one the missed double play and the second was a badly played ball by Matt Murton in the 5th on a ball hit by Lance Nix. The ball was misplayed and then rolled down Murton’s arm and into foul territory. The Rangers scored 2 of their 5 runs in the 5th. Zambrano threw 90 pitches against the Rangers on Friday night.
Without Derrek Lee, who was scratched from the line-up 30 minutes before the game, and Aramis Ramirez the Cubs offense was a no show on Friday. The Cubs managed only 4 hits and should have been shut out. The offense showed zero patience and swung at the first pitch too many times to count. Pop up after pop up, including one by Neifi in the 5th with Matt Murton on 3rd (he swung at the first pitch).
The mental mistakes have killed the Cubs the past two seasons….after Hairston led off the 3rd with a single he was picked off of 3rd base during a steal attempt by Juan Pierre….and yes you read that right. Neifi hit behind Hairston on a hit and run and advanced Hairston, Zambrano fouled out and during the Pierre at bat Hairston stole 3rd base. Pierre walked and while Todd Walker was at bat, Pierre was attempting to steal 2nd and the Rangers’ catcher Rod Barajas decided to go after Hairston instead and picked him off at 3rd….it was unbelievable. When the offense is struggling, mistakes like this usually change and cost you the game….and it did again on Friday. (I know it is Spring Training, but you play like you practice.)
Matt Murton added a double and Angel Pagan had the only other Cubs’ hit of the evening.
Todd Wellemeyer had another bad outing, on his first pitch of the ballgame in the 7th inning Rod Barajas hit one out to straight away centerfield. The Rangers’ announcers said Barajas usually pulls his home runs and they did not remember how long it had been since he hit one to center….can we say bad pitch? Wellemeyer was behind all four of the batters he faced. John Koronka sat down the Rangers in order in the bottom of the 8th.
Saturday – It’s Split Squad Day in Arizona and Shaun is in Arizona
The Oakland A’s in Mesa – Sean Marshall vs. Rich Harden
– This game will be on WGN at 2:05pm C.S.T.
The Kansas City Royals in Surprise – Jerome Williams vs. Runelvys Hernandez
The Cubs will play their last split squad games of the spring. Half of the Cubs will stay in Surprise to face the Royals and the other half will head back to Mesa to face the A’s. Jerome Williams will look to improve on his last 3 outings. Williams needs to work on his confidence and consistency on Saturday against the Royals.
Sean Marshall will make his second start of the spring against the A’s in Mesa. Marshall vs. Harden should be a great matchup…let’s all tune in and drop me an email if you want to do a talk during the game.
The Cubs will continue cutting down their roster soon after these games, so some guys will be playing for a spot. Will we get a preview of the Opening Day lineup on Sunday when the Cubs play the Diamondbacks in Mesa?
Will update if any news becomes available….