Chicago Cubs News

Spring Training: Cubs vs Angels

joehan
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On Monday the Cubs played the other team from Los Angeles. Although in my book the Angels should still have Anaheim in front of their name. It was the first game appearance of Carlos Silva since his dugout blow up that brought a little more attention to this Spring game than usual. After Sunday’s split squad games brought divided results, let us get on to the game notes of this full squad game.

PITCHING

Silva was able to get out of the first inning, unlike his last start, and even through the second inning, thanks to some defense I will highlight later. But just when you thought he was putting his last bad outing behind him, Silva imploded in the third. He started the inning by giving up six singles, with a hit batter mixed in, before recording the first out. That six pack of hits brought in five runs. He then gave up  a double to that brought in two more runs, and by the time the book was closed on Silva, he had given up 8 earned runs in the frame on 10 hits.

It is looking more and more like an uphill battle for Silva to secure a rotation spot out of Spring. It is safe to say at this point that he has struggled more than the other candidates. This puts GM Jim Hendry in a bind if Silva finds himself without a role on the 25 man roster by the end of Spring. If his overpriced contract and health issues were enough to make him nearly impossible to trade, imagine how much tougher trading him has gotten now.

Prospect Chris Carpenter was brought in to try to clean up Silva’s mess in the third inning. He did allow the inherited runner to score, but he the positive is that he did not add fuel to the fire and got the final two outs of the inning. James Russell continued to have a rough Spring as well, giving up three earned runs over three innings, and allowing the Angels lead over the Cubs to balloon to 2-12. Set up veteran Kerry Wood came in the 7th inning to stop the bleeding, tossing a scoreless frame while recording two strike outs. Like closer Carlos Marmol, it is good to see Wood racking up the strikeouts will keeping the walks down. In fact Wood has yet to give up a walk this Spring. The fan favorite actually has a good history of low walk totals during the Spring over the past few years, but hopefully he can translate that into the regular season.

Jeff Samardzija blew the save in the top of the 9th by giving up a lead off home run, but he settled down to prevent the Angels from taking a lead.

DEFENSE

Marlon Byrd and Blake DeWitt teamed up to throw out Howie Kendrick at the plate to end the first inning. Rookie catcher Welington Castillo threw out a base stealer in the 2nd inning. Samardzija also covered first base nicely on a ground ball out in the 9th. The Cubs did commit two errors in the field yesterday.

OFFENSE

Blake DeWitt was plugged into the lead off spot for the second day in a row. However he ended up going 0 for 3. It is still a bit early, but whether we like it or not, it looks like Kosuke Fukudome is the front runner as the lead off regular.

After Aramis Ramirez doubled, Carlos Pena came through with a two out RBI single. Byrd went 2 for 3 to bump his Spring average to .611, but other than that it was a pretty quiet game out of the veterans and regulars.

Already down 1-9, it was the prospects and hopefuls that decided to take the game over and pick up the team. Castillo had a two out RBI single of his own to drive in the aforementioned Pena. But by the start of the bottom of the 6th inning, the Cubs were down 10 runs. The first two Cub batters struck out swinging. But this is when the madness began. Max Ramirez singled and after two walks to load the bases, Scott Moore launched a grand slam that was able to stay fair down the line. Now the Cubs are down 6-12, but the fun is not over yet. Lou Montanez and Fernando Perez hit back to back singles before Josh Vitters brought in Montanez with a double. Matt Camp singled with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs. Now the score is 9-12 and the Cubs are back in the game. It needs to be repeated that all this happened with two outs.

The prospects and roster hopefuls were back at it again in the 8th inning. Matt Camp found himself at the plate with the bases jammed yet again, and once more he came through with a RBI single. With the bases still loaded, Max Ramirez followed with a base clearing double and suddenly the Cubs have the lead at 13-12. Comeback Cubs.

Tied at unlucky 13 in the bottom of the 9th, Perez walked with one out. We all heard about his speed after he was traded from the Rays to the Cubs as part of the Matt Garza deal, and he showed it off by stealing second and putting himself in scoring position. He then made his way to third base on a Vitter’s fly ball to center field. Bryan LaHair clinched the second straight walk off win for the Cubs with a double to bring in Perez. LaHairs game winning hit was yet another two out RBI knock.

It may have just been a Spring game, but you have to love the way the team put together the monster comeback victory, when they could have just as easily used the early Spring game excuse to simply go through the motions after falling behind by double digits. You also have to love that almost all of the work was done by the minor leaguers. Lost amongst the concern over the bushels of errors and Silva’s blow up so far this Spring has been the fact that the Cubs have been making a good habit of coming through with two out RBI hits, an important characteristic for a winning ballclub to have. Jordan already posted yesterday the hype over Rudy Jaramillo, and so far this Spring it seems we have seen a little more of his impact on Cubs hitters.

The last item I wanted to touch on was the catching situation. I know many of our Cubbies Crib readers love the alternate options behind Koyie Hill, and Castillo and Max Ramirez have definitely had good Springs to add fuel to the argument. It will be interesting to see what kind of decision they will force on Quade and Hendry if either or both kids can continue to have a solid Spring.

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