Chicago Cubs’ split-squad pour it on early in 9-2 win over the White Sox
With the second weekend of Cactus League play underway, the Chicago Cubs found themselves in a split-squad day starting with the Chicago White Sox in Mesa, Arizona.
Right-hander Jason Hammel took the mound for the North Siders, working four scoreless innings and giving up only two hits with four strikeouts. After giving up a one-out single to Brett Lawrie in the top of the first, slugger Jose Abreu became his first strikeout victim of the afternoon.
The Cubs quickly stormed out of the gates with back-to-back singles by leadoff man Dexter Fowler and right fielder Jason Heyward before Jeimer Candelario worked a four-pitch walk.
This set the table for first baseman Anthony Rizzo — a favorite to win National League MVP honors in 2016.
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Rizzo wasted no time in the batter’s box, slapping a pitch to right field, driving in both Fowler and Heyward to give Hammel a two-run lead early on.
Moments later, John Andreoli came through with an RBI single of his own on the very first pitch of the at-bat to extend the lead to three.
Joe Maddon‘s club dominated their long-time rivals by scoring all nine runs in only five innings of play with three coming in the first and fifth frames.
Fowler who singled in his first plate appearance of the afternoon — drilled his second home run of the spring to deep right field, making it a 4-0 contest. The White Sox had a few miscues on the mound today when Erik Johnson surrendered a run on a balk in the third and Dan Jennings allowed Heyward to score on a wild pitch in the fourth.
The White Sox had a few miscues on the mound today when Erik Johnson surrendered a run on a balk in the third and Dan Jennings allowed Heyward to score on a wild pitch in the fourth. Only three relievers managed to keep the Cubs from adding on to their already massive lead.
When looking back on this contest, there’s no doubt that Hammel deserves to be named ‘Player of the Game’. With the bottom half of the starting rotation up for grabs, the 33-year-old right-hander is looking to prove that he does, indeed, belong in the same rotation as Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and John Lackey.
Hammel had some consistency issues after suffering an injury against the St. Louis Cardinals last season.