Just like Tuesday`s contest against the Athletics, this was a very rare matchup between the two teams. The Cubbies took on the Cleveland Indians in a game that only really happens in the spring over at Goodyear Ballpark, and despite a strong spring debut from southpaw Travis Wood, the Cubs couldn`t pull off a win losing by a tough score of 1-0.
The Cubs, now 2-5, actually had a decent day at the plate finishing with nine hits including a 2-3 performance from Anthony Rizzo, he`s now 4 for his last 6, and not to mention Emilio Bonifacio also cranked out a couple knocks with a stolen base. Jorge Soler made an appearance pinch hitting for Rizzo, taking a four pitch walk and with all the talk of the “core four” this spring, Soler has had a very quiet start to the spring as up to this point he still has three zeros in that batting average category, just 5 at-bats. The team just couldn`t deliver that decisive blow.
As mentioned before, Travis Wood had a very nice spring training debut. After getting rained out in his first scheduled start, Wood toed the rubber today for the first time and started off the spring well by finishing with three scoreless innings. Wood allowed just one baserunner over the course of his outing, also punching out three for a perfect beginning to the road to opening day for him.
Unfortunately for Chicago, Justin Masterson was also on his game with a scoreless afternoon, followed by four more scoreless appearances by Indian pitchers for the shutout. With all the extension talk swirling, Terry Francona`s friend and pitcher Justin Masterson doesn`t seem fazed to the least bit.
The theme of the day for the Cubbies was the failure to get the big hit, as even with nine hits the north siders couldn`t scratch across a single run. The first inning really set that theme however, as with bases loaded and one out Mike Olt and Welington Castillo both flopped, the latter flying out to center and the former punching out. It didn`t end there, as in the fourth frame another opportunity passed them by, Donnie Murphy striking out and Nate Schierholtz flying out with two runners on.
And no, it did not even stop there as two more blown opportunities followed. Starting with ultra confident 19-year old Albert Almora, as he couldn`t get the ball out of the infield with bases juiced in the sixth, grounding into a double play to squander another golden chance. The Cubs had time to flop one more time, with Matt Szczur grounding out with the bases full in the eight to cap off a relatively poor day for the Cubbies` offense.
Cubs fans have seen this story many times before, so we should all hope new hitting coach Bill Mueller can work magic with his new hitters in these situations.
After dropping the last two games, the team will split up and face two teams tomorrow, the Angels and once again, the Indians. Rotation hopeful James McDonald (0-0, 54.00 ERA) will travel to Tempe Diablo Stadium to take on the Halos, while Edwin Jackson (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will stay at Cubs Park in Mesa to attempt to rebound against Cleveland.