Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler power Chicago Cubs to 11-7 win

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

9. 7. 76. Final. 11

Jason Hammel, four home runs lead Cubs to win over the Brewers

Home runs were on the menu today for Chicago Cubs’ hitters as they faced off against the division rival Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs hit a total of four home runs today against the Brew Crew – three of them off  starter Kyle Lohse.

The Cubs jumped on the board first with a sac fly off the bat of Starlin Castro that would score Dexter Fowler who tripled to lead off the game.

The first of the four homers came from Tommy La Stella in the bottom of the third – a solo shot and La Stella’s first of the spring – giving the Cubs an early 2-0 lead.

The second would come three batters later.  After walking Fowler and allowing a single to Jorge Soler – Lohse served up a three-run shot for Anthony Rizzo – his second of the spring – extending the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, with La Stella already on after leadoff single – Fowler would join the home run party, sending a 2-2 offering by Lohse into center for a two-run blast. It was Fowler’s second this spring and the third home run of the game off the Brewers’ starter – now putting the Cubs up 7-0.

As for Jason Hammel, he was again in control for the Cubs. In Hammels’ five innings of work, he allowed one run on six hits while striking out five.

The lone run came in the top of the fifth with two out as the Brewers’ All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a line drive scoring Scooter Gennett.

With two out in the fifth and Fowler on first, Soler took the second pitch he saw from Milwaukee reliever Will Smith and deposited it to left center field for the fourth home run for the Cubs in the game – his fourth as well this spring, giving the Cubs a 9-1 lead.

Milwaukee would try to come back in the top of the sixth. They posted three runs – two off relief pitcher Justin Grimm. Khris Davis tripled in Orlando Arcia to make the score 9-2. Grimm would then walk the next batter, before giving the next batter, Logan Schafer, a single to drive in Davis.

Grimm would exit for Hunter Cervenka, who took over with two runners on with no outs in the inning.  Cervenka would get one out before surrendering the fourth run of the game for the Brewers on a Martin Maldonado single.

That would be all the Brewers could muster out of what could have been a big inning as Cervenka would strike out Gerardo Parra and Lucroy to end the inning, with the Cubs holding on to a 9-4 advantage.

The Cubs would get one of those runs back on a wild pitch by the Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez scoring Miguel Montero, who walked earlier in the inning and was moved over by Arismendy Alcantara single. The Cubs now putting the lead up to six with a 10-4 lead.

The Brewers were still fighting in the top of the seventh – knocking Cervenka out of the game in favor of Cubs reliever Jorge De Leon.  De Leon would make quick work out of the first two batters but then would give up three straight hits – the third being a bloop shot off the Cubs’ short stop Johnathan Herrera into left by Schafer, scoring two.

The Brewers were now inching closer – making the score 10-6.

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Thankfully Cubs catcher Miguel Montero would throw out Schafer trying to steal second to end the inning and any more threats by the Brewers in the game.

The two teams would each score one more run apiece.

What Stood Out:

Jason Hammel – who finished his spring at 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA – put on another stellar performance for the Cubs.  He is showing signs of being the pitcher they saw in Chicago last season and not the one who was traded to the A’s. If he can have games like this consistently – he is going to make a strong push for an All-Star spot.

Anthony Rizzo has heated up as of late after a slow start. The recent surge in his bat is nice to see from the all-star first baseman that is looking to make good on his promise of winning the NL Central division.

Jorge Soler continues to get better each game. Today, he went 2-for-4 with his home run, two runs scored and two batted in.  It looks as if maybe manager Joe Maddon might have found his number two hitter.

Dexter Fowler turned in what was probably his best game this spring – going 3-for-3 with his second homer of the spring, a triple and four runs scored – coming up short of the cycle by a double.

It was nice to see the Cubs win their final Cactus League game. They finish the spring breaking even at 15-15 – if not for their slow start, that record could have been a lot different.

This is a much better team now than it was a few weeks ago.

What is Next:

The Chicago Cubs will play two more exhibition games. The first will be on Friday when they visit the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.  Edwin Jackson will get the ball to start the game for the Cubs as he will go against the Diamondbacks’ Jeremy Hellickson.

The first pitch is scheduled for 8:40 PM CT.

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