The Chicago Cubs followed up their 5-3 victory against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale on Monday with a 7-4 loss on Saturday afternoon.
For Chicago, this game exposed some old holes that Cubs fans hoped would be addressed last offseason. Among those, weak relief pitching and offensive sluggishness.
Pitching woes continue
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Newly-acquired pitcher Brett Anderson made the start for Chicago.
Earlier this week, Joe Maddon tapped Anderson for the lone remaining vacancy in the starting rotation. Due to his versatility, lefty Mike Montgomery willopen the year as the Cubs’ swingman.
Anderson threw four innings, giving up one run on six hits and also walked one while striking out two.
Wade Davis relieved Anderson in the fifth to face the heart of the Rockies order, and unfortunately, his uneven spring continued. Most of his pitches were up in the strike zone, leading to the Rockies’ success.
Davis lasted just one-third of an inning, facing five batters, walking two and giving up two runs in 29 pitches. He also spiked a pick-off throw to Jeimer Candelario at first. Davis’ ERA has climbed quickly over 7.00. The Rockies extended their lead to 5-0 before Davis’ afternoon was done.
This was a split-squad game for the Cubs, but notable players like Jon Jay, Willson Contreras, Matt Szczur, Javy Baez and Jason Heyward were in the lineup. They combined to go 2-for-10 with Contreras and Heyward collecting the only hits.
Heyward cranked a two-run home run to right in the sixth off Rockies’ starter German Marquez, his second of Spring Training. The $184 million right fielder is slashing .194/.213/.469 with eight RBI with less than a week left in Cactus League play.
Baez committed a couple of uncharacteristic defensive errors. One coming on a Carlos Gonzalez infield hit in the third inning and another in the fourth when he tried to transfer the ball on a double play. This was his first game back with the club since playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Cubs first base call-up Chris Dominguez pulled up lame on a foul ball, and left the game with an apparent hamstring injury.
Rockies offense rolls
Colorado scored the game’s first runs. D.J LeMahieu began the rally with a single. Carlos Gonzales reached on a weak infield dribbler. Then, Rockies phenom shortstop Trevor Story brought home LeMahieu on a hanging off-speed pitch that he drove to left field for a single.
Last season, Story was a big-time run producer in the Rockies lineup before suffering a torn ligament in his thumb. Story hit .272/.569/.906 in 97 games. He knocked 27 home runs and collected 72 RBI as well.
Marquez threw six innings, striking out six and giving up three hits. At one point, he retired 10 consecutive Cubs.
According to in-game interviews, Marquez came into the game looking to establish his secondary pitches. Four of his six strike outs came on curveballs and changeups.
Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado’s spring struggles continued against the Cubs. He went 0-for-3 with two pop-outs.
On a positive note, the Cubs and Rockies set a Talking Stick Field attendance record with 13,565 people in attendance today.
A lot of national media outlets are picking the Rockies to make noise in the NL West this season. Last season, the Rockies went 4-2 against the Cubs in the season series, and Chicago went 19-14 overall against that division.
Chicago’s next game is tomorrow, another split-squad contest against the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres.
The Cubs only have five more games until they open the 2017 regular season against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.