Tuesday’s Cactus League contest featured a glimpse into the future with Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hitting three straight bombs against the Cleveland Indians. Despite those three home runs – the Cubs would lose the game on the other side of the field committing four errors in a 10-6 loss.
While the offense looks ready for Opening Day today – the defense looks like it needs a lot more work.
Going into the second inning with zeroes on the board, the Indians took advantage of two errors in the outfield – one by Arismendy Alcantara in center and the other by Junior Lake in left, which led to a pair of Cleveland runs.
The following inning, the Indians would capitalize on another error – this time by third baseman Kris Bryant throwing one away allowing Ryan Raburn to get on base. Rayburn eventually came around to score on a Mike Aviles sacrifice fly.
The Indians’ pitcher Trevor Bauer looked sharp until the top of the fourth – that’s when the Cubs’ young stars would set off some fireworks. First Soler took an 0-1 pitch to deep left field – just barely staying fair for the Cubs’ first run of the day – pulling Chicago within three, 4-1.
Not to be outdone – the team’s young slugging infield prospect Baez took a 1-1 pitch to the exact same area, just about 20 feet further, cutting what was once a 4-0 Indians’ lead in half. Both blasts marked each player’s first home runs of the spring.
Bryant then decided he wanted in on the fun and got a little redemption for his earlier throwing error – taking another Bauer 1-1 pitch into the deep gap in right-center field for the Cubs’ third consecutive home run of the inning. It was the third baseman’s second home run in Cactus League play this year.
With no scoring action until the sixth inning – Welington Castillo would come up to the plate and would join the home run party – sending one out himself to tie the game up at four apiece.
But that lead wouldn’t last long. In the bottom of the sixth – Cleveland’s Tyler Holt hit a double to right off new pitcher Blake Parker – taking over for Pierce Johnson. Michael Bourn drove in Holt on a one out, line-drive single to center – putting Cleveland up on Chicago 5-4. From there, Terry Francona’s club never looked back.
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Cubs’ pitchers Corey Black and Joe Ortiz combined to give up four more runs in the seventh, putting the game out of reach. Chicago did manage two late runs in the ninth, but it was nowhere near enough to rally.
What Stood Out:
While Travis Wood didn’t receive the loss – he didn’t pitch like a winning pitcher either. Though errors would cost him two extra runs – he surrendered seven hits in his three innings of work while striking out two.
The Cubs committing four errors proved to be too much – as it would be for any team – as youth was on full display Tuesday. Granted, bumps in the road are expected, but to commit three errors early and dig the staff an early hole is always a recipe for disaster.
On the positives from the game – while the Cubs struck out seven times – not one of those came from Soler, Baez or Bryant. And again – the obvious highlight was the back-to-back-to-back home runs by the trio. They were not cheap shots either – all had a charge lit into them. A great sight to see.
Another surprising star of the game – Castillo – who threw out two runners – one in the fourth for a strike’em out, throw’em out double-play and another in the fifth – played a solid all-around game for Chicago.
The Cubs (0-6-1) will face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers (4-1) on Wednesday with first pitch slated for 3:05 CT. It will be the Cubs’ Jon Lester (0-0) going up against the Dodgers’ Zach Greinke – who will be making his Spring Training debut.
Hopefully the bats will be charged-up and ready to go again but even more importantly after today’s performance – hopefully the defense will be on their toes and ready to play a clean game and get their first win of the spring.