The good. Plentiful sunshine, 76 degrees at first pitch, and a Cubs 8-6 win over the Colorado Rockies in front of 12,885 (the 4th largest crowd ever at Hohokam). Matt Murton going 2 for 4, with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. Henry Blanco 2 hits in 2 at bats, including a 2 run HR in the 2nd. (Maybe his lucky # is 2) Blanco was replaced by Geovany Soto in the 4th and later Casey McGehee, all-told Cubs’ catchers were 4 for 5 today. Daryle Ward, pinch hitter extraordinaire, pinch hitting in the 6th knocks in the go-ahead run with a base hit. Ryan Theriot manufactured a run in the 3rd. He drew a walk, took 2nd on an errant pick-off throw by Rockies pitcher Franklin Morales, then stole 3rd, finally scoring on a wild pitch.
The good, defensively. Mike Fontenot had a sure ESPN web gem (if anyone was shooting it) ranging far to his right, hurling an off-balance throw that D-Lee did a full scissors extension, getting Ryan Spilborghs at 1st. This was followed the very next play, with another potential web-gemmer by Aramis Ramirez, who made a diving catch on a hard line-drive across his body to rob Marcus Giles of extra bases. Felix Pie made a nice running grab deep in Centerfield to record the 2nd out in the 9th inning.
The good, pitching. Michael Wuertz 1 1/3rd scoreless innings, no hits, and 2 K’s. Just about the only other good pitching was the fact that Kerry Wood was actually able to pitch today, although he did allow a run on 2 solid hits by the Rockies in his 1 inning.
The Bad and the Ugly. Rich Hill, who had been sketchy this spring, really was bad today. He could not find the strike zone at all, walking 5 of the first 6 batters he faced to open the game. Amazingly, he got out of the 1st only allowing 1 run. His control issues didn’t go away in the 2nd, as he walked the first batter. The next batter reached on an Aramis Ramirez throwing error, finally and mercifully Hill was pulled after Yorvit Torrealba hit a double. Unless Hill works on keeping runners on base, opponents will run at will, as the Rockies had 4 stolen bases on the lefty. His replacement Tim Lahey didn’t pitch alot better, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and a base on balls in 1.2 innings. Cubs pitchers gave the Rockies 12 free passes in today’s game.
Henry Blanco, who had a good day with the bat, was picked off of 1st base in the 4th. Kosuke Fukudome, starting in Centerfield for the Cubs, struckout 3 times in 4 at bats. They say it takes time to adjust to the Major Leagues after coming over from Japan, the adjustment needs to happen pretty soon, because opening day isn’t far off.
Last night I was talking Cubs with some of the Central Illinois Cubs Boosters. A couple of the concerns raised about the current team included: Rich Hill, Fukudome’s bat against MLB pitchers, Alfonso Soriano’s fielding, and whether Ryan Dempster can be consistent starting pitcher. Don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t all we talked about because overall they’re very excited about this year’s team and the talent the Cubs have, but it’s spring training and these are some of the things they’re talking about.
The Cubs are off to Tucson tomorrow to take on the Rockies once again. I won’t be able to make it down, will be watching on ESPN2. The big Windy City grudge match follows on Saturday (if you can call a spring training game such a thing) as the White Sox come to Hohokam.