Jon Jay delivered two hits and prospect Ian Happ laced an opposite-field double in the Chicago Cubs’ Cactus League opener at Sloan Park Saturday afternoon.
Unheralded Chicago Cubs prospect Charcer Burks delivered the deciding blow in the contest. With a quick stroke, he drove a ball over the center field wall, breaking the 3-3 tie and giving Chicago the lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Burks spent last season with Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach, batting .247/.356/.407 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in. Over the course of his career, the young outfielder has shown a good mix of pop and speed, swiping 23 bases in 2016.
Matt Szczur, also a member of the World Series championship squad from the year prior, opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. With two men on, the outfielder chopped one off the glove of A’s pitcher Jesse Hahn, deflecting the ball into shallow left field, allowing both to race home.
Later in the inning, Heyward delivered an RBI groundout to second base, extending the Cubs’ lead to 3-0. The Cubs outfielder will be scrutinized a great deal this spring after disappointing offensively in 2016.
Rosario struggles; rookies impress defensively
Right-hander Jose Rosario got rocked in the fourth inning, serving up a pair of long-balls to the Oakland offense. First, it was former Tampa Bay outfielder Matt Joyce who connected. Shortly thereafter, Matt Chapman delivered on a game-tying, two-run blast.
To be sure, Rosario lacks high-level experience. Despite being in the system for a decade, he just saw Triple-A Iowa for the first time in 2016. He pitched to a 2.50 ERA across three levels of the Cubs’ system last year.
Jacob Hannemann made a very nice running catch on the track in the eighth, showcasing his defensive abilities and speed. Later in the frame, Burks laid out to make a diving catch to prevent what could have been a game-tying extra-base hit.
The Chicago starter, Mike Montgomery, tossed just one inning, walking two and striking out a pair.
Jon Jay went 2-for-2 in his Chicago Cubs’ debut to pace the team offensively. Outside of Rosario, the other eight Chicago pitchers did not surrender a run on the afternoon.
Chicago (1-1) will continue Cactus League action on Sunday afternoon at Sloan Park. The Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians at 2:05 p.m. CT in a rematch of last year’s World Series.