Game Seventeen: Cubs (ss) 0 Rangers 2
Game Eighteen: Cubs (ss) 4 A’s (ss) 8
On a cloudy, rainy and cold day in Arizona, the Cubs were shut out by the Texas Rangers and out hit by the Oakland A’s. Carlos Zambrano got the start against the Rangers and had a good outing. Zambrano pitched 5 innings in his second start of the spring and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. Zambrano pitched well and was constantly ahead of the hitters. Zambrano did not receive any run support and Marquis Grissom hit Rangers’ pitcher Adam Eaton with a line drive forcing Eaton to leave the ballgame in the second….more on this game later in the post….
Jerome Williams did not fair as well as Zambrano. Williams had another rough outing he allowed 4 runs, all earned, on 4 hits, walked 4 in 4 innings of work. Williams gave up all of the runs to the A’s in the first inning. The Cubs battled back, but we unable to win the game. Michael Wuertz had a rough outing as well, giving up 4 runs, all earned, on 6 hits in 2/3 of an inning of work….more on this game later in the post….
Aramis Ramirez continued hitting….he is in the zone. Ramirez went 2 for 2 and raised his average to .556. There was not much offense from the Cubs. As a team they only had 5 hits and 2 came from Ramirez. Ronny Cedeno and Jerry Hairston both had doubles.
The pitching was the big story in Mesa. Zambrano seemed sharp and both Hughes and Santo mentioned that fact. Zambrano was ahead in the count on most of the batters he faced. Z struck out seven Rangers in the game, including the side in the 1st inning. Scott Williamson had a 3 up and 3 down inning; striking out the side. Williamson was very sharp and the Cubs need to think twice about trading him. Les Walrond and Randy Wells also pitched on Sunday.
The offense just could not get started and although it is just Spring Training, you hate to see a shut out. Santo voiced his displeasure with the Cubs being shut out during a Spring Training game. The Cubs had chances; they could not capitalize.
Interesting fact about fundamentals, Hughes and Santo mentioned the Cubs had only 37 sacrifice flies last season; this spring they already have 10. This is a very good sign!!!!
Box Score from Cubs.com from the Rangers game
Cubs vs. A’s: The A’s pounded out 13 hits against Cubs pitching and this is a good gauge of where Jerome Williams, Todd Wellemeyer, Michael Wuertz and Will Ohman are at this time of the spring. All 4 of the Cubs pitchers that were used against the A’s were on the Major League roster at the end of last season. The A’s played mostly their Opening Day line-up and the Cubs played their prospects with the exceptions of Jacque Jones, Matt Murton, John Mabry, Neifi Perez, Todd Walker and Henry Blanco.
Let’s get the offense out of the way….Jacque Jones and Matt Murton both had a 2 for 3 day. Jones scored a run and Murton drove 2 in. Both Jones and Murton have had good springs and the only hope is they can continue hitting once the games count. The rest of the lineup for Sunday’s game was a who’s who of the Minor League system. The following players were in the lineup for the Cubs: Ryan Theriot, Richard Lewis, Joe Simokaitis, Aaron Weston, Ryan Norwood, Jake Fox, Matt Craig, Jeff Culpepper, Jose Reyes, Buck Coats and Adam Greenberg.
Pitching wins ballgames and if Jerome Williams keeps facing 20 batters in 4 innings of work, he will not win many for the Cubs this season. Like Rusch, Williams had Blanco back behind the plate and should have had a better outing. In his first outing of the spring, Williams looked good. He was hitting his spots and showing good command of his stuff, but his last 3 outings have been less than stellar. Williams did finish his outing on Sunday by retiring 10 of the last 12 batters he faced. Michael Wuertz could go a long way in helping the Cubs win some ballgames this season. With the questionable rotation that Dusty and company are leaving Mesa with, if Wuertz could relax and pitch like he did last year….the problems with the rotation might be hidden for a while with a quality bullpen.
Box Score from Cubs.com from the A’s game.
The Cubs only have one more split squad day left this spring, next Saturday against the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals and Monday is their last trip to Tucson.
Monday – The Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson, 2:05pm C.S.T.
Angel Guzman vs. Orlando Hernandez
Zambrano showed the pitching staff how the ‘Big Boys’ pitch on Sunday; it is time for Angel Guzman to take the next step. Guzman will start the season at Iowa, but with the starting rotation having all the question marks it does, it would be great to see him finish the spring on a positive note and know the Cubs have an arm at Iowa if necessary.
Will update if any news is released from Mesa….check back later in the evening.