Cactus League: Cubs at Athletics, Cubs vs Rangers 3/17/13


The Cubs continued the weekend slate of split squad games on Sunday afternoon. They swapped places with the Rangers from the day before, playing the role of host at Las Vegas, while the team left behind in Arizona visited the A’s in Phoenix. The Cubs wore green hats with their usual blue batting practice uniform tops to join in on the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but the good fortunate seemed to be tapped out from Saturday.

The Cubs put up a fight in Vegas, but their late inning comeback attempt fell three runs short. The Cubs pitching put the team in an early hole, with starter Carlos Villanueva allowing three first inning runs before settling down for a four inning appearance. The three walks issued by Villaneuva is not a pretty stat. Esmailin Caridad got his first Cactus League action on Sunday and was given a rude welcome by the Rangers. Caridad was also tagged for three runs, although his came on three hits allowed in just one inning of work. Cubs fans may recall that Caridad had a couple cups of coffee in Chicago back in 2009 and 2010. Injuries and a lack of control have kept Caridad from return ticket to the Majors, and since the righty is currently not on the 40 man roster, there is further reason to believe we will not see Caridad at Wrigley any time soon.

Nate Schierholtz got the Cubs on the board with a lead off homer in the sixth and second baseman Tim Saunders capped off the scoring with a two run blast in the eighth. The Cubs were threatening in the ninth with the bases loaded, but failed to get any closer and the North Siders fell to the Rangers 8-5. The Cubs finished their annual weekend trip to Vegas with a split.

Back in Arizona, there was some excitement over seeing Scott Baker make his way back to the mound from injury for his first Cactus League appearance with the Cubs. Unfortunately that excitement faded quickly, as Baker did not even manage to get out of the first inning. Oakland jumped the former Twin for three runs and the Cubs pitcher only recorded one out while facing six batters. He did not help himself with two free passes either. To literally add injury to insult, as Andrew postedMonday night, Baker will be going in for a MRI after experiencing some soreness earlier in the day.

March 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Brent Lillibridge (20) watches a home run ball hit by Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) in the fourth inning during a spring training game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Coleman was able to stop the bleeding, providing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. The Cubs offense was able to tie the game up through the top of the fourth, but Cory Wade gave the runs right back in the bottom of the frame. Wade would finish his two innings of work with three runs allowed on three hits. The North Siders tied the game up yet again by the sixth inning, but the Cubs bullpen continued to give up the long ball to the A’s. Jensen Lewis, a non roster invitee hopeful, had his streak of three scoreless outings snapped by the A’s. He allowed three runs in just 2/3 innings of work.

Javier Baez went 2 for 5 with a RBI to continue his hot hitting, but Brent Lillibridge and Dave Sappelt were the ones flexing their muscles on Sunday. Lillibridge added a double to go 2 for 3 with two RBI and two runs while Sappelt was 2 for 4 with three RBI. Outfield prospect Jae Hoon Ha, who participated in the Futures Game last All Star break, got his first appearance in Cactus League action and went 0 for 1.

With the pair of losses the Cubs fell to 10-14.