On Thursday the Cubs played the American League champion Texas Rangers at HoHoKam Park. Michael Young is still a Ranger and the Cubs did not get to face off season rumored trade targets Chris Davis and Darren O’Day while Max Ramirez was not given the opportunity to burn his old club on the playing field. However former Rangers Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and Carlos Pena did get the opportunity to play against their old team. On to the game notes.
Carlos Zambrano got his second start of the Spring. After getting through two scoreless, manager Mike Quade sent Zambrano out for the 3rd inning. Big Z finished with two hits allowed while issuing two walks and a hit batter. He was able to get out of the third unscathed despite having two runners on to continue his scoreless spring. Braden Looper made his first appearance this Spring and gave up one run in two innings of work.
The Rangers did the bulk of their damage off Rafael Dolis and Thomas Diamond. Esmailin Caridad came in to relieve the struggling Dolis in the 6th to inherit runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out. Despite inducing a ground ball, the go ahead run scored. Caridad did do a good job cleaning up the mess as he was able to close out the frame without further damage. The young pitcher has been pretty impressive so far in his two outings. It is still early, but I am curious to see if he can further muddle the bullpen selection for manager Quade. Carlos Marmol continued with his excellent start to the Spring with a scoreless inning of his own. The most important note is that the closer has yet to issue a walk in his two innings of work so far this Spring.
The Cubs committed only one error! One positive spin a few people have tried to put on the Carlos Silva dugout blow up was that maybe someone other than the manager and coaching staff needed to pipe up regarding the ridiculous amount of errors. Regardless of what may actually be responsible for the decrease errors for one game, we can all agree that it is a refreshing step in the right direction after the error totals we have seen so far.
On a positive note defensively, the Cubs were able to complete a nice double play with Zambrano covering first base in the 2nd inning to erase a lead off walk. Hopefully pitchers covering first base on ground balls to the right side of the infield is a habit that is continued in the regular season.
Blake DeWitt was given his shot at the top of the batting order for this game, and he responded with a lead off double. After making his way to third base on a wild pitch, he was driven in by Aramis Ramirez on a two out single. The Cubs have been very good so far in scoring first inning runs, and you have to love the two out RBIs. DeWitt ended the day going 2 for 3 with one run and one RBI. His RBI came at the back end of a four run 4th inning for the Cubs. The big hit in the inning was a bases loaded double by Augie Ojeda to score two, and pitcher Looper added a sac fly RBI.
Unfortunately the pitching staff was not able to hold the 5-1 advantage as noted above. Down 5-8 in the 9th, the Cubs did make a comeback effort that fell just short. With two outs, Marquez Smith hit a double to left field. Scott Moore followed with a single to drive in Smith, and with Matt Camp batting, Moore stole second base. Camp singled to drive in Moore, but Koyie Hill flew out to center to end the game. It was good to see the minor leaguers mounting the mini comeback despite being down to the last out.