Spring Training Game Six – Cubs 5, Rockies (ss) 7
WP – Chris Martin (1-0) LP – Chris Rusin (0-2) Save – Scott Oberg (1)
Javier Baez and George Kottaras hit back-to-back spring jacks in the sixth inning that tied the game at three but Rosell Herrera hit a Little League Grand Slam in the seventh as the Cubs lost 7-5 to the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon at Cubs Park.
The Cubs and the Rockies played a sloppy game that took three hours and 27 minutes to complete. The Rockies were charged with five errors, the Cubs with one that ended up being the difference in the game and the two staffs walked a combined nine batters.
The Rockies broke a 3-3 game open in the seventh inning after Chris Rusin walked the bases loaded and had to be lifted before he could complete his three innings of work. Rusin gave way to Ryan Searle, who was up for the day from minor league camp. Rosell Herrera hit Searle’s first pitch back up the middle and into centerfield. Two runs scored as Aaron Cunningham missed the cutoff man. Christian Villanueva tried to make a play on Herrera at second base, then threw the ball into right field. Two more runs scored on the play, completed the ‘grand slam’ and put the exhibition game out of reach for the Cubs.
Jeff Samardzija made his second start of the spring and gave up three runs on four hits with a walk, a hit batsman and a strikeout in three innings. Charlie Blackmon led off the game with a triple and scored on a ground out to second off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez. After tossing a scoreless second inning, Samardzija surrendered two more runs in the third inning with one of the runs scoring on a bases loaded walk to Carlos Gonzalez. Samardzija said afterward he felt good about his outing despite the results.
Jose Veras followed Samardzija and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth inning.
Chris Rusin ran out of gas again in his last scheduled inning of work. Rusin kept the Rockies off the board in the fifth and sixth innings before turning the game over to Ryan Searle with the bases loaded and two down in the seventh.
Pedro Strop tossed a perfect eighth while Armando Rivero pitched out of a jam in the ninth without allowing Colorado to tack on.
The Cubs managed five runs on seven hits Wednesday. Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a home run) and George Kottaras (1-for-2 with a home run and a walk) provided the highlights while Ryan Kalish (0-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base) manufactured a run in the first inning. Josh Vitters (2-for-2 with a run scored) made his Cactus League debut in the outfield (left field) and collected a pair of hits.
The Cubs lost the first game in which Rick Sutcliffe took out the starting lineup and with Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 2-4 on the spring.
Charlie Blackmon led off the game with a triple to right off of Jeff Samardzija. Michael Cuddyer hit a 1-2 pitch back up the middle that Samardzija stopped with his foot, kicked the ball toward first and threw out Cuddyer for the first out. Blackmon held at third but scored when Carlos Gonzalez grounded out to second base. Samardzija caught Troy Tulowitzki looking to end the inning.
The Cubs tied the game at one in the bottom of the first. Ryan Kalish reached on an error by Tulowitzki to start the inning. Luis Valbuena worked a 3-2 count before lining out to center. With Junior Lake at the plate, Kalish swiped second. Lake struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) for the second out. Tyler Chatwood threw a 1-1 pitch to Ryan Roberts in the dirt. Kalish read the play and took off for third. Michael McKenry made a low throw to third, and Kalish scored on the first error of the game. Roberts grounded out to third to end the inning.
The game remained tied at one until the third inning.
Dustin Garneau led off the third with a single to center off of Samardzija. D.J. LeMahieu followed with a single to center. With runners on first and second with no outs, Blackmon bunted toward third. Valbuena threw him out at first as both runners moved up ninety feet. Samardzija plunked Cuddyer in the back/shoulder area on a 1-2 pitch and loaded the bases. Samardzija walked Carlos Gonzalez and forced in Garneau with the Rockies’ second run. Jason Pridie ran for Cuddyer before Tulowitzki stepped into the box. Tulowitzki gave Colorado a two-run lead with a sac fly to center that plated LeMahieu. With runners on first and third with two down, Gonzalez tried to steal second with Ben Paulsen at the plate and Kottaras threw him out to end the inning.
Chris Martin took the hill for the sixth inning with a two-run lead. Martin struck out Roberts before Javier Baez went oppo and cut the Rockies lead to 3-2 with his second longball of the spring over the wall in right. George Kottaras tied the game at three with a home run to right center.
Chris Rusin stayed in for his third inning of work in the seventh. Rusin struck out Garneau for the first out. LeMahieu reached on an infield single to short and advanced to second when Blackmon grounded out to Chris Coghlan at first. Rusin walked Pridie and McBride to load the bases. Rick Renteria made the slow walk and went to his pen for Ryan Searle. Rosell Herrera singled to center on Searle’s first pitch. LeMahieu and Pridie scored easily then McBride and Herrera scored when Christian Villanueva threw the ball into right field. Searle walked Ben Paulsen and Jackson Williams before stopped the comebacker off the bat of Ryan Wheeler and throwing him out at first base to end the inning.
The Cubs tried to get back in the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Darnell McDonald walked to start the seventh. Josh Vitters singled to center off of Kraig Sitton. Christian Villanueva singled to center and loaded the bases with no outs. Aaron Cunningham reached on an infield single that plated McDonald with the Cubs’ fourth run. A wild pitch with Coghlan at the plate allowed Vitters to scamper home … 7-5 Rockies. But Coghlan struck out swinging. Jeudy Valdez reached on an error by Matt McBride to load the bases. Luis Flores struck out swinging and Jorge Soler grounded out to third to end the inning.
The Cubs make the trip to Goodyear on Thursday to face the Indians. Travis Wood is scheduled to square off against Justin Masterson.