It appeared to be a beautiful day for baseball in Peoria, Arizona, until the San Diego Padres began to hammer away at Chicago Cubs’ Jon Lester in their 7-0 shutout win Monday afternoon.
With the league entering the middle part of Spring Training, managers across the league will allow their arms to work a couple extra innings as they prepare for the regular season. Prior to entering today’s game against the Padres, Lester stormed out of the gate by dominating opponents over his first couple appearances as a member of the Cubs.
But today was not one of those days. Through just 3 1/3 innings, Lester surrendered six runs off seven hits – two of which were long shots by this new look San Diego lineup. The Padres (7-6) got the early jump on the Cubs (5-9-1) during the bottom of the second inning, going up 2-0 on RBI’s by both Will Middlebrooks and Tommy Medica.
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Medica would later make it a 5-0 ballgame in the middle half of the fourth inning, after blasting a two-run shot to left center, following Matt Kemps second home run of the spring just one inning before hand.
Chicago appeared to have something going entering the top of the eighth, needing to put together another late rally. After two back-to-back singles by Jonathan Herrera and Jorge Soler with no-outs, the Cubs ended up having the bases loaded after a Taylor Teagarden walk.
Before Teagarden approached the batters box, Albert Almora came in to pinch hit for third base prospect Kris Bryant. He would strikeout on a foul tip, failing to drive in Herrera who was standing on second.
Outfielder Jonathan Mota grounded out to end the inning, allowing the Padres to escape the bases loaded jam.
With the Cubs trailing 3-0 to start off the top of the fourth inning, designated hitter Kris Bryant connected on what would be his second double of the spring. Bryant has put his power on display early on, entering the game with six home runs and nine RBI – categories in which he leads both the Cubs and the rest of the majors in.
He would finish the game 1-3 at the plate with two strikeouts and four left on base.
San Diego scored their final runs of the ball game on a RBI single by Kemp. Both Kemp and Medica combined 4-6 at the plate with five runs batted in.
What Stood Out:
In what could potentially become a playoff match-up in the National League, the Cubs need to capitalize with runners on base. Something like this is going to make your team look bad, especially after all the hype the club has picked up over the winter.
If you want to make a run for the post-season, you need to be able to push those runners across on top of cutting team strikeouts in half. Yes, this was a problem yet again. So far over the last week or so, the Cubs have struck out a total of 10 or more times on several occasions.
Today against the Padres, they managed to strike out a total of 10 times compared to San Diego’s seven.
Next up for the Chicago Cubs (5-9-1) will be the American League champion Kansas City Royals. Royals (11-3) are the hottest team in baseball so far halfway through Spring Training.
Taking the mound for the Cubs on Tuesday will be right-handed starter Jason Hammel. Hammel (0-1, 10.80 ERA) needs to sharpen up as he’s given up six runs across five innings in two starts this spring. If he’s looking to prove that he has what it takes to hold down the number three spot in the rotation, having a solid outing against the Royals is a must.
Starting opposite of southpaw Danny Duffy. Duffy (0-0, 6.75 ERA), like Hammel, has struggled over his first couple outings to start off the spring. In four innings of work, he’s been charged with three earned runs off six hits.
Tomorrow’s contest between the Cubs and Royals will be in Mesa with the first pitch slated for 3:05 pm central time.