The Cubs skid has hit 6 games with today’s 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers at Hohokam in front of 11,082 fans. As I mentioned in a recent blog, these wins and losses don’t matter much, especially because it’s still early in an extended spring training. However, there’s no doubt that Lou Piniella wants to start seeing the guys playing at a higher level as evidenced by Lou’s demeanor immediately after today’s game. Looking a bit peeved following the game was in stark contrast to earlier in the day, when Lou was in a good mood and very animated while doing quite a bit of coaching of his players.
The Cubs starting lineup of position players today looked similar to what we may see come opening day with the exception of Koyie Hill playing in place of Soto. For the Cubs the story of the day was Sean Marshall who started today’s game and had another good outing tossing 4 shutout innings allowing only 2 hits while striking out 3 and walking none. At this point Marshall is looking very strong in his bid for the role of the 5th starter.
Not much with the bats today for the Cubs, however Milton Bradley batting in the cleanup spot led off the 2nd inning with a hit, and eventually scored the Cubs first run. The Cubs scored their 2nd and final run in the 3rd inning, starting with a double from Koyie Hill followed by a perfect sac bunt by Sean Marshall advancing Hill to 3rd, allowing Hill to score on a Ryan Theriot’s ground out. A-Ram was 2 for 2 with a double before being replaced by Luis Rivas. Koyie Hill was also 2 for 2 with a walk and getting noticed as he vies for the back-up catcher spot with Paul Bako.
Derrek Lee made a nice snag of a Chris Davis sinking liner and then made a perfect throw to nail Josh Hamilton off 2nd base for the double play in the 2nd. Alfonso Soriano made a very nice catch to end the 5th inning, grabbing David Murphy’s deep drive up against the left field fence. A few Cubs pitchers didn’t fare so well: Luis Vizcaino, Chad Fox, and Kevin Hart gave up all of the Ranger’s runs. It’s not so much that they pitched poorly, Hart serving up a grand slam to Rangers Greg Golson, but all 3 compounded their problems with a combined 7 bases on balls. When Hart came off the field at the end of the 9th, his dejected expression looked as if he thought he had lost a roster spot. While he certainly didn’t help his cause it’s still early spring so he will get more chances.
Cubs Hall of Famer and this season’s Cubs Tennessee Double A Manager Ryne Sandberg brought out the starting lineups to the umpires today. During BP Jim Hendry enthusiastically said “Johnny Cash!” when the song “Ring of Fire” started playing in the ballpark, and then started singing along….hey, who isn’t a Cash fan? The Cubs now know they will be playing the Japanese WBC team this Thursday the 12th at Hohokam, facing their own teammate Kosuke Fukudome. Should be an interesting match-up, and as public address announcer, my pronunciation skills will have to be sharp that day.
Our fans haven’t been particularly good at catching foul balls this season, in fact the right fielder tossed a ball that had gone foul into the stands only to have it bungled back onto the field by a fan. The security guy then tossed it into the same area of fans, only to have the same thing happen. As if it wasn’t silly enough, it happened a 3rd time. Finally security just picked up the ball, ran to a spot he could reach and handed it to fan. I did see a young guy out in the grandstands actually catch one later in the game-a bit of redemption.
One thing I can tell you about Milton Bradley, he gets outwardly upset with himself when he doesn’t get on base. He expects to get on base every time he gets up, I gotta say I love that attitude. Cubs face off against the Kansas City Royals tomorrow at Hohokam, talk with you after the game.