Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics play to 2-2 tie in Mesa


2. 9. 2. 96. Final

In the Chicago Cubs opener, Mike Olt showed the power that keeps them hoping for a breakout from the one-time prospect. But they also saw the swing and miss hitter as well.

Olt’s two-run home run off of the A’s Barry Zito in the bottom half of the second accounted for all of the Cubs’ (0-0)offense, but it would be enough to pull a draw in their Cactus League opener. Zito, who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 19. 2013, is looking to make a comeback with the team that drafted him.

Olt would get another chance in the fourth, after Miguel Montero and Chris Coghlan singled around a Javier Baez flyout. Olt battled, but in the end was a strikeout victim at the hands of Tyler Clippard.

Travis Wood, looking to win the Cubs’ final spot in the rotation, pitched two solid innings and made his case right away for the last spot. It’s not the first time in his career Wood has been in a battle for a starter spot, and his experience will be his advantage.

The A’s (2-0) would rally late, scoring once in the seventh and then the eighth to tie the game at 2-2.The Cubs Don Roach allowed a single to Luke Carlin in the seventh, which brought home Jacob Hannemann, cutting it to 2-1.

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In the eighth, Roach’s replacement Francisley Bueno was no bueno, surrendering a leadoff single to Matt Muncy, then two batters later allowing an RBI double to Rangel Ravelo to tie the game.

The two teams had agreed to not play extra-innings prior to the game since the Cubs were a split-squad on Thursday.

What Stood Out:

Olt is at a critical juncture with the Cubs, and today’s effort didn’t hurt his case. He may very well be the favorite to win the third-base job, and while the Cubs know of his power, he needs to cut back on the strikeouts and put the ball in play.

After being demoted to Iowa last season, he was able to make adjustments at Triple-A, and hopes to carry those over this spring as he looks for one final chance with the Cubs.

What’s Next:

The prize of the offseason, Jon Lester will make his debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday at 2:05 p.m. CT on Friday.

Lester has been at the center of the Cubs’ new hope entering the 2015 season. Last season he was 16-11 between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland, and brings in the reputation of a true ace to the rotation.

The “Lester Era” will begin on Friday, albeit a small sample, and begin earning the record six-year, $155 million contract.

Next: Cubs add bullpen veteran in Coke