Sunday was the last day of the Cubs short split squad trip to Sin City. The Los Angeles Dodgers provided the split squad opponent in Vegas while the other half of the Cubs played the Diamondback in Scottsdale, Arizona.
On to the game notes, starting in Las Vegas.
Carlos Zambrano made his fourth start of the Spring and made another five inning appearance. Although he allowed six hits, he only allowed one run thanks to some defense I will highlight next and some timely ground ball outs and strike outs he induced. Jeff Samardzija had another shaky outing, walking two in 2/3 of an inning of work, but he was also able to strike out two and escape without allowing a run.
Rafael Furcal led off the game with a single, and after a botched sacrifice bunt attempt by the Dodgers, Zambrano picked Furcal off first base. James Loney of the Dodgers followed with a single that he tried to stretch into a double and was thrown out at second base by Alfonso Soriano. On a fielding error by third baseman Marquez Smith in the top of the 7th, Lou Montanez threw out the Dodger runner trying to score on the play. The Cubs did commit two errors overall for the game.
Starlin Castro is not going to want to leave Vegas, as he went perfect at the plate for the second game in a row. He is now hitting .485 for the Spring, and hopefully this is a sign that this young phenom can avoid a sophomore slump in 2011. On the negative side Tyler Colvin and Soriano combined to go 0 for 8 in the middle of the order. Despite the lack of offense from the heart of the line up, Jeff Baker came in and went 3 for 3, including the game winning two out RBI single in the bottom of the 10th.
Meanwhile against the Diamondbacks…
Braden Looper showed improvement, only allowing one run on five hits over a 3 2/3 innings. Jay Jackson also held his own after a couple tough appearances, allowing one run over 2 1/3 innings. At this point Looper joins Carlos Silva behind Andrew Cashner in the competition for the final rotation spot in my book. Jackson will begin the 2011 season in the minors with the goal of a mid to late season call up to shoot for.
Kerry Wood provided a scoreless inning that was highlighted by the fact that he did not give up a walk. Reliever Scott Maine gave up two earned runs in the bottom of the 9th to make the game a close one, but he was able to coax a game ending double play out of Wily Mo Pena. Maine is a candidate for the remaining lefty reliever spot if John Grabow is not ready to go come April (Grabow has only had one appearance so far) or if the Cubs go with three lefties in the pen. Maine has not looked very good so far, and I would prefer to see James Russell competing for a bullpen spot rather than a rotation spot.
Josh Vitters committed the lone error for the Cubs in this game to help make for a nervous bottom of the 9th.
Fernando Perez led off once again, but went hitless in three official at bats. He did have two walks though. Carlos Pena had another good day after a slow Spring, going 2 for 4 with a solo home run in the 4th inning. Two out RBIs continued to be in style for the Cubs, and pitcher Looper was in the middle of the action both times. He ended the day 2 for 2, including a two out RBI double.