With the off day on Wednesday, the Cubs participated in a pair of games on Thursday via split squad action. The North Siders visited the Dodgers in Tucson in the afternoon and played a night cap against the Mariners in Peoria.
Against LA, the Cubs went up 2-0 thanks to a two out RBI single by Brent Lillibridge in the second and a solo homer by Starlin Castro in the third. Unfortunately Chicago starting pitcher Scott Feldman continued his sub par Spring and gave up the lead by the fourth inning. A three run long ball in the bottom of the fourth inning was the big blow. Feldman ended up making it through five innings and the positive sign is that he did get five strikeouts. The pitcher did mention afterwards that the change up is what he still needs to work on, but April is right around the corner.
Hisanori Takahashi, Michael Bowden, and Jaye Chapman all combined to toss two hitless innings as they try to earn as many final brownie points as they can to squeeze onto the Opening Day roster.
Feldman did help himself on offense with a RBI single in the fifth, driving in Lillibridge, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Unfortunately the pitcher would get doubled off first base to end the inning on a liner off the bat of Castro to Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis.
The Cubs put up a fight and rallied to within one run in the top of the ninth, but the game tying run in the form of (guess who) Lillibridge ended up being stranded at third. The former White Sox went 2 for 3 with a run and a RBI, and he certainly has earned a spot on the 25 man roster rather than being a default selection to back up the thin depth at third base.
Castro and Brian Bogusevic were the only other Cubs with more than one hit, and the two hit Cubs club members from this game are all hitting over .400 for the Spring. Castro also picked up his third stolen base.
Meanwhile in Peoria, fell behind in the first third of the game, with Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija giving up three earned including a homer. The Shark would end up going six frames and struck out seven Mariners, good to see from a pitcher that tosses the hard stuff.
Samardzija also followed Feldman’s lead of Cubs pitchers helping their own cause, collecting his second homer of the Spring. His home run got the scoring started for the Cubs and had tied the game at one at the time. Alfonso Soriano also provided a long ball in the fourth inning for the second tally and the North Siders tied it at four in the seventh thanks to RBI singles by The Shark and Darnell McDonald. Brad Nelson hit a two run shot in the eighth to put the Cubs on top for good.
While the Cubs offense pulled away late in the game, their bullpen did a great job keeping the team within shouting distance. James Russell pitched a perfect seventh to collect the win and close Carlos Marmol had a fairly stress free eighth, just issuing a walk with no damage to the scoreboard. Set up man Kyuji Fujikawa had a Marmol like ninth, allowing two hits before tight roping his way to the first save of his Spring.
At the end of the day the Cubs record settled at 13-15.
Topics: Alfonso Soriano, Brad Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Brian Bogusevic, Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs, Darnell McDonald, Hisanori Takahashi, James Russell, Jaye Chapman, Jeff Samardzija, Kyuji Fujikawa, Michael Bowden, Scott Feldman, Starlin Castro