Spring Training Game Nine – Cubs 8, Mariners 10
WP – Paul Fry (1-0, BS 1) LP – Andury Acevedo (0-2) Save – Blake Parker (1)
Jon Lester labored through his first outing of the spring and was charged with six runs, three earned, in two innings. Jorge Soler and Javier Baez launched home runs. But Kyle Schwarber had to leave the game in the third inning with a sore left knee. The Cubs took the lead in the top of the eighth just to give it right back the next half inning. And Joe Maddon’s team dropped its seventh straight spring game on Thursday afternoon in Peoria.
Jon Lester appeared to hit his spots with good velocity. Lester received zero help from his defense throughout his two innings Thursday. And he was unable to help himself defensively as his throwing issues were front and center during his first outing of the spring.
The Mariners scored three runs in the first off Lester. Two infield singles that should have been outs started the inning. Nori Aoki reached on a grounder to short and Lester did not field a bunt between the mound and first base that Anthony Rizzo would have made a play on. Lester fielded a comebacker off the bat of Robinson Cano, but instead of starting a double play he got the sure out at first base.
Stefen Romero and Adam Lind followed with back-to-back doubles that plated all three Mariners runs in the first inning. Lester made 26 pitches in the first inning, 20 for strikes.
The Cubs were charged with three errors in the second inning, one by Lester and one by David Ross that led to the three runs being unearned.
Ed Lucas led off the second with a double. Lester fielded a bouncer back to the mound. Instead of throwing to first to get Steve Clevenger for the out, Lester tried to throw behind Lucas. The ball skipped and bounced away from Kris Negron. Luis Sardinas followed with a single to left. Kyle Schwarber fielded the ball cleanly and threw toward the plate. David Ross did not catch the one-hop throw. The run scored and the error put runners on second and third with one out. Kris Negron booted a routine grounder that allowed Cano to reach and Clevenger to score. And Sardinas scampered in from third on a ball Romero chopped back toward the mound that Lester could not handle.
Jon Lester turned the game over to Ryan Williams after being charged with six runs, three earned, on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Lester made 50 pitches, 38 for strikes, in two innings.
Kyle Schwarber did not return to left field when the Cubs took the field in the third inning. Schwarber hurt his knee on the throw to the plate in the second inning. Schwarber batted in the third before taking himself out of the game. Schwarber said he is not concerned. He will be re-evaluated Friday and will miss a couple of days.
Ryan Williams had a good outing in relief of Lester. Two scoreless innings, after allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two. David Ross threw out Luis Sardinas and pinch-runner Shawn O’Malley trying to swipe second base in the fourth.
Outside of Carl Edwards Jr. and Ryan Williams, it was a rough day for Cubs’ pitchers. Hector Rondon gave up a run in his inning of work. Brandon Gomes walked a batter, allowed a hit and did not throw enough strikes. Andury Acevedo struggled again after recording two quick outs. Acevedo walked back-to-back hitters in the eighth before Maddon went and got him. Felix Pena walked the first two hitters he faced in relief of Acevedo that allowed the Mariners to tie the game. And Jesus Montero delivered the game winner, a two-run single off Pena in the eighth.
Carl Edwards Jr. struck out two of the three batters he faced on 12 pitches, seven for strikes.
Cubs’ pitching allowed 10 runs, seven earned, on 15 hits, six walks and eight strikeouts.
The Cubs offense finally put more than three runs on the Spring Training scoreboard. The Cubs scored eight runs on nine hits with only two walks while striking out nine times.
Jorge Soler (1-for-3 with a home run) put the Cubs on the board with a solo homer leading off the second inning.
The Cubs tied the game at three in the second on back-to-back doubles by Jeimer Candelario (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) and Taylor Davis (1-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) off Wade Miley and a single to center by Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored).
Kris Negron (1-for-3 with a home run) added a solo homer in the fifth that made it a 6-4 game. And Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) cranked a two-run homer in the seventh that made it a one-run game, 7-6.
The Cubs tied the game and took the lead in the eighth on a sac fly by Ryan Kalish and a Matt Clark double that plated Willson Contreras.
Wins and losses do not matter in Spring Training. The sloppy play by the Cubs regulars must change over the next week. Mental mistakes, as Maddon talks about, cannot happen on the baseball field.
With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 1-8 in the Cactus League.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park on Friday afternoon (2:05pm CST) to take on the Reds. John Lackey is scheduled to face Robert Stephenson.