Spring Training Game One – Cubs (ss) 2, A’s 2 – 9 innings
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On a picture perfect Chamber of Commerce Day in front of 11,132 at Sloan Park, the Cubs could not ride out a Mike Olt two-run homer in the second inning and played the A’s to a 2-2 tie in nine innings on Thursday afternoon.
Donn Roach and Francisley Bueno were not hold the two-run lead and gave up single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Joe Maddon and Bob Melvin decided in the eighth inning that if the game was still tied after nine the two teams would not play a tenth inning and the exhibition would be called.
Mike Olt (1-for-2, home run and two RBI) smacked a two-run homer over the left center field wall off Barry Zito with Chris Coghlan (1-for-1 with a run scored) on board and that was pretty much the extent of the Cubs offense. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2), Starlin Castro (0-for-2), Javier Baez (0-for-2), Dexter Fowler (0-for-2) and Miguel Montero (1-for-2) collected one hit. The Cubs managed just two runs on five hits without a walk for the game.
Joe Maddon emptied his bench in the fifth inning. Taylor Teagarden, Matt Szczur (CF), Adron Chambers (LF) and Jonathan Herrera (SS) saw time along with Jacob Hannemann (RF), Bijan Rademacher (DH), Dan Vogelbach (1B), Danny Lockhart (2B) and Jeimer Candelario (3B) up from minor league camp for the day.
Travis Wood was sharp Thursday afternoon. Wood threw strikes in his two innings of work. Wood did not allow a baserunner, struck out two batters and threw 26 pitches, 16 for strikes.
Neil Ramirez replaced Wood and retired all three batters he faced with two strikeouts. Ramirez pounded the strike zone and threw 11 pitches, eight for strikes in his first inning of the spring.
It was wild watching switch-pitcher Pat Venditte work at the park. Venditte retired Fowler and Rizzo from the left side and before throwing a pitch to Castro from the right side, he switch glove hands and made a couple of tosses to his second baseman.
The players that will make up the Cubs first 25-man roster of the season looked fine Thursday. Players such as Olt and Baez that needed to apply the adjustments they made this winter did while others went about their business and got their work in.
The Cubs host the Reds on Friday afternoon. Jon Lester is scheduled to make his Cubs debut against fellow lefty Tony Cingrani.
Observations from the Park
It was rather fitting that the Cubs began Cactus League play this year with a pair of games. Mr. Banks had to be smiling from above as he watched his beloved Cubs take the field.
Mr. Banks familiar No. 14 was all over Sloan Park. From the outfield grass to flags flying atop the park to the No. 14 hats that each player, coach and on-field staff wore, his presence could be felt.
The Cubs played a tribute video on the left field board and both teams paid their respects to Mr. Banks by lining up on the first and third baselines.
Mike Olt put together two good at bats Thursday. Olt seemed to see the ball well and showed off his power on the home run. Olt reached out and pulled the Zito pitch over the wall. Olt appeared quieter in the box and had a quick bat through the zone.
Javier Baez went hitless Thursday, but he did not strikeout and was lot calmer in the box. Baez reduced his movement, especially with the bat. Baez took big swings early in both at bats before shortening his swing. Baez’s hands appeared much lower as well. While the bat speed has always been there, Baez seemed a little quicker attacking the baseball.
Travis Wood was very aggressive and did a good job repeating his delivery. When he missed, he missed badly and it appeared to be issues with his mechanics when he did. Wood was sharp for his first outing of the spring.
Neil Ramirez was very good, threw a heavy ball and made only one mistake in his inning of work … and Junior Lake caught it in right field. Ramirez had good command and hit his spots with one exception.