Solid pitching performance and offensive production are just what the Chicago Cubs needed. It was spoiled by a late inning rally as Mariners walk-off, 11-10.
After watching the pitching staff struggle, the performance of the Chicago Cubs on Friday comes as a breath of fresh air. Good pitching and solid hitting sparked the team for the first seven innings. That last two, however, saw a large lead crumble.
Kyle Hendricks took the mound for the Cubs and showed why he is a candidate for the NL Cy Young Award. Only two balls made it out of the infield. Still, one was a ground ball. After three innings, Hendricks threw 43 pitches, allowed one hit, struck out four. The other outs came via four grounders and one line drive to left.
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Neither team scored for the first four innings, but the Cubs broke through first. In the top of the fifth, Chris Dominguez hit a two-run home run to right, scoring Elliot Soto. And, continuing his stellar Spring, Albert Almora tripled, pushing Jon Jay across the plate. The Cubs took a 3-0.
While the Mariners scratched out a run in the bottom of the fifth, the Cubs offense showed off again in the top of the sixth. After a single by Eloy Jimenez, who advanced to second on a wild pitch, Ian Happ doubled him home. Another double by Dominguez and a home run from Chesny Young gave extended the lead to 7-1.
Another run came across for the Mariners as Kyle Seager‘s RBI ground out plated Ben Gamel. However, a three-run homer by Happ extended the lead to 10-2 in the top of the seventh. They would need too large of a lead.
Seth Frankoff entered the game in the fourth inning, relieving Hendricks for the day. In three innings, Frankoff allowed two runs on six hits. All in all, a solid day’s work. But, in the seventh, the Cubs called on Dylan Floro to take the mound. Three singles, a sacrifice fly and a three-run home run pushed Floro from the game. The Cubs still lead 10-6 after David Berg closed the inning.
Berg would return for the eighth inning. A strikeout and a groundout to start the inning was promising. The Mariners had other ideas. A single by Rayder Ascanio was followed with an inside-the-park home run by Luis Liberato. Berg would finish the inning, but the score was 10-8.
The game then was given to Maikel Cleto. He was not able to save the victory. Joe DeCarlo opened the bottom of the ninth with a single and was lifted for Ian Miller. Miller would then steal second and score on a double by D. J. Peterson. A walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. A single by Shawn O’Malley gave the Mariners an 11-10 walk-off win.
While most of the everyday Cubs did not play, it is great to see a box score filled with numbers. Every player that started the game finished with at least one hit. Happ lead the team going 4-5, only needing a triple for the cycle. He also scored twice and knocked in four. Dominguez went 2-3, with a double and a home run, scoring three.
Miguel Montero played six innings, going 1-4 with three strikeouts. However, he also threw out Gamel trying to steal in the fourth.
The offense from the Chicago Cubs is performing well, especially considering that many of the regulars in the line-up are not seeing action to a high degree. The team has scored 81 runs. Jason Heyward is still working on his swing and Almora is fighting for a starting spot. They have seen 20+ at-bats this Spring. Kris Bryant has 19. Looking through the stats, most other regulars have 14 or less at-bats. Compare that to the team three hours south, in which all but one starter has 16 or more at-bats.