In a matchup you really only see in March, the Chicago Cubs took on the Moneyball Oakland Athletics Tuesday, scoring three in the eighth including a 2-run bomb from Mike Olt and a tie-breaking single from Albert Almora to win their second Spring Training contest in a row.
As mentioned, Olt ended up providing the deciding blow, cranking a long home run off of the Athletics’ Michael Ynoa in the eighth to give the Cubbies a three-run lead. After right-hander Brian Schlitter surrendered an unearned run in the ninth, courtesy of a Matt Szczur throwing error, that Olt bomb turned out to be the winning hit in a 6-4 win.
The Chicago Cubs (2-4), got a big boost from platoon outfielder Justin Ruggiano in this one, who tallied two hits, a home run and 3 RBIs in a great day at the dish. With a career slugging percentage of around .506 against southpaws for Ruggiano, this is exactly the role he needs to fill this season. Start against lefties, like he did today against Tommy Milone, hit homers and complete a possibly above-average platoon with Nate Schierholtz.
Arguably the Cubs’ most polished young pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, unfortunately had a rough go of it today against Oakland. Hendricks finished with just one run and one hit allowed over two innings, but showed little control, serving up three free passes. Jonathan Sanchez, while it’s certainly early, didn’t help his case for a bullpen spot out of camp by forfeiting two runs on four hits while walking one in two innings. In order to make a lasting impression, he’ll definitely have to straighten things up before the spring really gets underway.
Once the kids got into the game in the eighth, Almora singled to center to break a 3-3 tie, and Olt followed with the game-winning home run shortly thereafter. While it’s just March 4 and obviously still early, it’s great to be getting results out of a guy who could have a big impact on the organization as a whole.
The Cubbies will look win their third straight tomorrow afternoon, playing at 2:05 CT once again at Cubs park against the Colorado Rockies. Jeff Samardzija will take on righty Tyler Chatwood in search of win number three for Chicago.