Spring Training Game Fourteen – Cubs 4 A’s 6
WP – Huston Street (1-0) LP – Scott Eyre (0-1, BS 1) Save – Gio Gonzalez (1)
Tuesday’s starting nine featured a lineup Lou Piniella will likely use once the season gets underway in a couple of weeks, with one possible exception in centerfield. Carlos Zambrano threw 4 solid innings in his 3rd tune-up of the spring. He allowed 1 run, a solo home run by Jack Cust in the 2nd inning, on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts and most importantly no walks. Zambrano has shown improvement every time out this spring, which is obviously a positive as the season approaches. Kerry Wood threw another impressive inning in relief, gave up a hit but faced the minimum. Carlos Marmol gave up a hit and a walk in the 9th but struck out the side and has yet to allow an earned run in Arizona.
Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry struggled once again. Eyre gave up 3 runs on 2 hits with 2 walks in just 2/3 of an inning. The big hit was a 3-run home run in the 6th by Bobby Crosby. Bobby Howry allowed 2 more runs in his 2/3 of an inning on 2 hits.
The Cubs offense continued to struggle against left handed pitching on Tuesday. They managed just 2 hits off of starter Greg Smith before scoring a pair of runs in the 5th off of Huston Street. The Cubs added two more in the 8th off of Gio Gonzalez. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-4 with a double but was caught trying to steal 2nd in the 1st inning. Ryan Theriot was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, a run scored and a RBI while Sam Fuld tripled, walked and scored a run in his 4 trips to the plate. While these games do not matter, the performances from Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry are concerning. The Cubs cannot afford to have either Eyre or Howry start this season the way they did last year. It only took Howry a little over a month, but it took Eyre until the All-Star break. With Will Ohman in Atlanta, the uncertainty that is Neal Cotts and the inexperience that is Carmen Pignatiello, Lou Piniella needs the Scott Eyre that showed up late last year….not the one that has pitched this spring (3 2/3 innings in 4 games, 5 runs, 4 earned on 6 hits, 3 walks, a hit batsman and 4 strikeouts….10 baserunners).
Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol on the other hand have separated themselves from Bobby Howry. Wood was effective once again, but….he has yet to pitch on back-to-back days. Carlos Marmol was just plain nasty again.
The Cubs inability to hit left handed pitching must be driving Lou Piniella up the proverbial wall. The Cubs managed just 2 hits off of Greg Smith (Smith is competing for the A’s 5th starter spot) in 4 innings with 2 strikeouts and a walk.
Alfonso Soriano started the game off with a single to left but was thrown out trying to steal 2nd with Ryan Theriot at the plate. Theriot ended up working a walk. But Kosuke Fukudome struck out and Derrek Lee grounded out to end the inning. The offense was very quiet until the 5th inning.
Geovany Soto walked with 2 outs and scored on a triple to right by Sam Fuld. Casey McGehee followed with a single to center and Fuld scored to give the Cubs a brief 2-1 lead. Gio Gonzalez replaced Street in the 6th and shut down the Cubs offense again until the 7th inning.
Aramis Ramirez walked and Mark DeRosa singled to start the 7th for his first hit of the spring. Soto flied out to right and Ramirez advanced to 3rd. Sam Fuld walked to load the bases but Casey McGehee grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Alfonso Soriano led off the 8th with a ground rule double to right. Mike Fontenot pinch ran and scored on a triple by Ryan Theriot. Kosuke Fukudome hit a sacrifice fly to plate Theriot and cut the A’s lead to 6-4. The Cubs went in order in the 9th to end the game.
Sam Fuld made a highlight reel catch in right center in the 1st inning.
The Cubs are 5-9 so far this spring with 18 left to play.
The Cubs will face the Texas Rangers for the first time this spring on Wednesday. Ted Lilly is expected to make the start in Surprise against Jason Jennings. Sidney Ponson is expected to make his Rangers’ debut as well.
News from Arizona
The Cubs 2008 season will be captured on film according to a report on Cubs.com. John Scheinfeld and a film crew will follow around the team for a movie with a working title of “We Believe“.
“What we’re doing is a film exploring the love affair between the great city, Chicago, and it’s ball team, the Cubs….what makes Chicago unique, the city, and what makes the people of Chicago unique and why they have supported this team so passionately for so long. We’ll get into the psychology of that and the history of that.”
Lou Piniella said he would like for his regulars to get more at bats before the season starts according to a report on Cubs.com.
Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry are scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday….it will be the first time this spring both pitchers have pitched in back-to-back games.
Derrek Lee talked about the difficulty all of the day games have on a player in their first season in Chicago. Lee mentioned the reasons why players start slow and thinks the same will happen to Kosuke Fukudome.