Sunday afternoon marked the Cactus League home opener for the Cubs, as they played host to the defending champion San Francisco Giants. Potential Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija got his first appearance of the Spring out of the way, and the Cubs line up featured more of the projected regulars compared to yesterday.
The Cubs offense picked up where it left off from their previous game, getting out to a quick 4-0 lead off of Giants starter Matt Cain. Alfonso Soriano played a literal role in getting Cain knocked out of the ballgame early, registering a single that tagged Cain in the leg. That base hit loaded the bags for the home team and Nate Schierholtz chipped in with a RBI ground out before back up catcher Dioner Navarro provided the big blow, a three run homer.
Unlike Saturday, however, the Cubs offense failed to add onto that early lead and were held scoreless the rest of the game. Thankfully for the offense, the pitching staff made the four runs hold up. Samardzija picked up two innings of work and allowed one run. However he did not do anything to hamper his bid at the Opening Day honors come April. The Shark was quoted as saying that he hoped the competition for the role of ace of the staff would be held on the field of play and not in the trainers room, with veteran Matt Garza apparently still waiting for clearance to even begin throwing again.
Speaking of aces, it was aces wild for Carlos Marmol, who came in to relieve The Shark. In one inning of work, the Cubs closer allowed one run on one hit with one walk and one strikeout. It was a trio of other assumed bullpen job locks that ended up closing the door on the Giants bid for a comeback win, with the Cubs taking the game 4-3. The trio included Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, left handed specialist James Russell, and the rubber armed Shawn Camp, all combining to just allow one hit over three innings with five strikeouts.
Again, two games into the Cactus League slate does not guarantee results come the regular season, but so far there have been plenty of positives for these Cubs to build on. Continuing off of what I said yesterday, at this point it is better to be 2-0 and concerned about how this team will shake out over the course of the 2013 season, than to be 0-2 this Spring and concerned about the 2013 outlook.