Spring Training Game Fifteen – Cubs 0, Padres 7
WP – Brandon Morrow (1-0) LP – Jon Lester (0-1) Save – None
The Cubs had one of those days Monday afternoon in Peoria. After playing good baseball for close to a week, the defense was sloppy behind Jon Lester while he struggled with his command. Lester lasted just 3 1/3 innings and the offense managed only seven hits as the Cubs dropped an exhibition game for the first time since last Friday.
Jon Lester didn’t have it Monday. While he appeared to be fighting through a mechanical issue, Lester and Welington Castillo seemed to have trouble getting on the same page. Lester faced the minimum in the first on 11 pitches, six for strikes, and gave up just one broken bat single.
Lester issued his first free pass of the spring to Derek Norris leading off the second. A throwing error by Chris Coghlan and just rather lackadaisical play led to the Padres first run. The Padres worked deep counts, ran up Lester’s pitch count, as he pitched from behind a majority of his outing, and knocked him out of the game with one out in the fourth.
The Padres scored two runs in the second, one in the third and four more in the fourth. Matt Kemp launched a solo shot off Lester in the fourth that left the park and Tommy Medica drilled a two-run homer before Joe Maddon went to his bullpen.
Jon Lester’s first bad outing in a Cubs’ uniform ended after 3 1/3 innings but the book wasn’t closed until minor leaguer Frank Batista gave up another run that was charged to Lester.
The final line for Jon Lester on Monday: 6 runs, all earned, on 7 hits (two home runs) with one walk and four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings on 70 pitches, 44 for strikes.
Jon Lester was not happy and told Mark Gonzales after his outing, “I can’t fully step back and say, ‘it’s only Spring Training.’ The competitor in me is still the fact I gave up seven runs. Just not being able to make adjustments is very frustrating.”
Jason Motte pitched a perfect fifth inning, his best outing of the spring. Joseph Ortiz and Neil Ramirez combined on a scoreless sixth. And Drake Britton completed the seventh by retiring all three batters he faced in the seventh.
Blake Parker retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the eighth.
The Cubs were shutout for the first time this spring. And they managed only seven hits with three walks. Maddon’s men went 0-for-12 with RISP, left 11 runners on base and struck out 10 times.
Kris Bryant (1-for-3 with a double) just missed another home run in the fourth and had to settle for a double off the wall in right.
Mike Olt (1-for-3 with a double) collected his first two-base hit of the spring and Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-2 with a walk) reached base twice while making his first start at third base.
Jorge Soler (1-for-2 with a walk) and Starlin Castro (1-for-3) recorded the Cubs other two hits.
The Cubs looked tired Monday and it was evident by the play in the field. Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan were charged with errors but there were more mental lapses than physical errors that can be tracked on a box score.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park on Tuesday and host the AL Champion Kansas City Royals. Jason Hammel is scheduled to face lefty Danny Duffy.