Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Junior Lake hit three home runs and Luis Valbuena added two more homers to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 10-6 rout over the Oakland Athletics. However, the production wasn`t exactly spread out, with five of the six homers coming from two guys, Junior Lake and Luis Valbuena.
Lake, who has been struggling all spring long, finally had a tremendous day, homering big in three straight at-bats. After Lake gave Cubs fans flashbacks of Aramis Ramirez and his 3 homer game a few years ago, Luis Valbuena had himself a day, homering big time twice.
The two actually went large back-to-back twice in this one, adding to the Cubs` league leading home run total this far in the spring. Not to leave out the other homer today, Mike Olt also hammered one, making Cubs fans easily forget his two errors at third earlier in the game.
Jason Hammel took the hill for Chicago and actually struggled quite a bit. Even if he allowed just 2 runs in his 4 and two thirds innings, he surrendered eight hits and walked three. You could tell the entire time Hammel was just off today, dealing with command issues and not missing a bat.
Luckily for the Cubs, Jesse Chavez didn`t have one of his best days either, After strolling through five easy shutout innings, Chavez ran into serious trouble in the sixth, giving up 5 earned runs including a 3-run frozen rope homer to Junior Lake, then a solo shot from Valbuena.
The trouble didn`t stop there for Oakland pitchers, as an inning later Mike Olt hit his solo bomb off of Drew Pomeranz, further cementing himself into the Cubs` roster decisions coming up. Don`t concern yourself with the two errors committed by Olt as this front office is smart enough not to put too much stock into two errors from a player just knocking the rust off.
After homering already in the 6th and 7th innings, Junior Lake stepped up in the 9th and delivered yet another crushed HR, dead to center. Then, for the second time today, Valbuena followed Lake with a shot of his own, to score the Cubs` tenth run of the afternoon.
Also, despite being sent down to minor league camp, both Blake Parker and Arodys Vizcaino got into the game today, with the former serving up a run on two hits in the ninth, while the latter tossed a scoreless frame with a punch out. Speaking of the bullpen competition, out-of-options Alberto Cabrera also pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one.
The Cubs certainly had an exciting contest today, and will look to continue the magic tomorrow night against the San Diego Padres. After all these day games of late the Cubs will play in a night game again, sending fifth starter hopeful Carlos Villanueva to the bump at Cubs Park.