Spring Training Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 4, Angels 8
WP – Jered Weaver (3-0) LP – Eric Jokisch (1-1) Save – None
Mike Olt and Travis Wood hit home runs and Jorge Soler collected another RBI, but the Angels put a four-spot on the board in both third and fifth inning as the Cubs dropped their fourth straight in the Cactus League.
All eyes were on Kris Bryant (0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all looking) as he made his debut in left field. Bryant looked comfortable in limited action in the field and even teamed up with Javier Baez on a 7-4 double play to end the sixth. However, it was the Cubs other third baseman that had a good night.
Mike Olt (2-for-3 with a home run, a triple and two RBI) continued his sensational spring. Olt smacked his third longball in the Cactus League off Jered Weaver in the fourth, a two-run shot with Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored) along for the ride. Rizzo kept the inning going with the first of two doubles on the night. Olt added a hustle triple in the sixth off Weaver. The ball skipped past a diving Matt Joyce in left and Olt slid in safe at third.
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead after Javier Baez (2-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base) led off the first with a single. Baez swiped second and moved to third on a grounder to short off the bat of Addison Russell (1-for-4 with a stolen base). Jered Weaver caught Kris Bryant looking. Russell stole second and Jorge Soler (0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI) lifted a 1-1 pitch from Weaver into left, Baez tagged and scored, 1-0 Cubs.
Eric Jokisch had another inconsistent night on the mound. Addison Russell and Javier Baez combined on inning ending double plays in the first and second inning. Jokisch struggled with his command in the third, fell behind just about every hitter he faced and the Angels batted around on the lefty.
Albert Pujols’ big night at the plate (2-for-3 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and four RBI) started in the third. Albert Pujols plated Collin Cowgill with a ground rule double and scored, along with Mike Trout, on a C.J. Cron triple as part of the four runs Jokisch gave up in the third.
The Cubs cut the Angels led to 4-3 in the fourth on the Olt’s two-run shot. And that’s as close as the Cubs would get on the night.
Jason Motte replaced Jokisch for the fifth and was lit up. Motte could not get on the same page with Welington Castillo and he struggled with his command. Motte touched 96 mph on the gun but had little movement on his fastball. Motte ended up being charged with four runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in a third of an inning. The big hit, a three-run homer by his former teammate, Albert Pujols.
Joe Maddon had to replace Motte with minor leaguer Yoanner Negrin and he allowed another one of Motte’s baserunners to score.
Neil Ramirez was shaky in the sixth. Ramirez just appears a little off. Ramirez did not give up any runs and allowed one hit with a strikeout and no walks.
Justin Grimm was very good in the seventh. Grimm threw in the high-90s and looked like he was in mid-season form.
Zac Rosscup and Brian Schlitter worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning respectively.
The Cubs final run of the night came courtesy of Travis Wood. Wood pinch hit for Negrin to leadoff the fifth and he pulled a 1-2 pitch from Jered Weaver onto the berm in left. The result of Wood’s second pinch hitting appearance of the spring sent smiles up and down the Cubs’ dugout.
The Cubs turned four double plays Thursday night. And the first one was just short of spectacular. Addison Russell made a sensational pick on a Mike Trout smash, made a quick accurate throw to Javier Baez, who made a quick turn and strong throw to first to double-up Trout.
Arismendy Alcantara saw time at shortstop for the second game in a row as he prepares for his super utility role. Alcantara was on the backend of a 5-3-6 double play, the Cubs fourth of the game, to end the eighth.
And in the competition for the last spot in the outfield … Matt Szczur (1-for-4) started in center field and collected a hit, Junior Lake (1-for-1 with a double) replaced Bryant in left and doubled in the ninth.
Round two of the Cubs and White Sox is Friday afternoon at Sloan Park. Jason Hammel is scheduled to face Jeff Samardzija.