Cliff Floyd hit a three-run homer and doubled, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run home run, Alfonso Soriano went 3-3 with two singles, a triple, a stolen base, and a run scored, and Jacque Jones (a single and a double and two runs scored) and Matt Murton (a single and a walk) reached base twice, as the Cubs defeated the S. S. Mariner (that's "S. S.," as in "Split Squad") before a capacity crowd of 12,771 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today.
The Cubs agreed to play with the DH, so Cliff Floyd was the Cubs DH, with Matt Murton playing LF. I think Piniella has probably found what will be his preferred lineup versus RHPs: Soriano leads off, Jones hits 2nd, then D-Lee and A-Ram, Floyd hits 5th, Barrett 6th, DeRosa 7th, and Izturis bats 8th. (Versus RHPs, Piniella will hit either Izturis or Murton 2nd - still TBD, while dropping Jones to 6th).
The Cubs got off to quick start against Seattle starter RHP Cha-Seung Baek, as Alfonso Soriano grounded a single to right and Jacque Jones followed with a hit+run bloop double fisted over the third-baseman's head, sending Soriano to 3rd. However, both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fanned swinging (and D-Lee looked overmatched against Baek's heater, folks), before Cliff Floyd clubbed a first-pitch no-doubt-about-it home run into the upper bullpen beyond the RF fence, to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
Facing a Seattle split squad lineup that featured only one every-day player (catcher Kenji Johjima), Ted Lilly went two outs into the 4th inning, throwing 74 pitches, including 37 (half of his total number of pitches thrown) in one interminable second inning. In that 2nd inning, Lilly gave up a walk and two singles that resulted in one run scoring, before Willie Bloomquist hit a two-out chopper up the middle that was fielded nicely by Cesar Izturis (showing outstanding range), before Izzy undid the good by uncorking a throw that Derrek Lee had to leap high to catch, allowing the runner to reach base safely, while Michael Garciaparra (who was running on a 3-2 pitch with two outs) kept on a-comin' around third to score the inning's second run, in a daring base-running play that would have made older brother Nomar proud.
The Cubs scored three more times in the 3rd against Baek, as Soriano led-off with a triple into the left-field corner, followed by an RBI line single to center by Jacque Jones. After D-Lee flied out to CF, Aramis Ramirez hit a home run over the left-centerfield fence, scoring Jones ahead of him, and giving the Cubs a 6-2 lead.
Behind on most of the hitters through the first two innings, Lilly still managed to allow only two runs (one earned) on four hits, with one walk, and one strikeout over his 3.2 IP of work. Despite laboring in the second, Lilly came back to pitch more efficiently in the 3rd (12 pitches) and two outs worth of the 4th (10 pitches), before being relieved by Bob Howry, as Lilly apparently had reached his pitch count (must have been 75).
Howry worked 1.1 IP in relief and allowed one run (earned) on one hit and a walk, throwing mainly sinkers and getting mostly ground balls. He gave up a triple to Rey Ordonez and a walk to Willie Bloomquist to lead off the 6th, but then got two ground balls (including a nifty 3-6-3 GIDP turned by Lee and Izturis) to end the inning.
Scott Eyre pitched an easy 1-2-3 6th (GO-K-GO), and it's the best he's looked all Spring, but Carlos Marmol again struggled with his command (two walks and twenty pitches) in his one inning of work. On the other hand, Les Walrond continues to throw the ball VERY well (one hit and three softly-hit outs in today's 13 pitch one-inning outing).
Two fine looking young Mariner RHPs--2006 #1 draft pick Brandon Morrow (Cal) and Rule 5 pick Sean White (ex-ATL)--completely shut down the Cubs in innings 4-5-6-7 (and why didn't PIT just keep White after they selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, instead of trading him to SEA???), but the Cubs scored twice more in the bottom of the 8th against SEA NRI RHP Justin Lehr, as Daryle Ward led-off with an opposite field line-single to left, followed by one-out back-to-back doubles by Cliff Floyd and Geovany Soto (both hit into the left-field corner), and a two-out RBI single by Tomas Perez. Floyd hit a homer and a double in today's game, but he also hit a moonshot to the warning track in right-center in the 6th that just missed going out. While he seems to be running OK, he is walking with a slight limp.
On the negative side, Cesar Izturis grounded into two inning-ending DPs today (a 1-6-3 and a 6-4-3), and honesty compels me to report that D-Lee looked completely, utterly overmatched against the fastballs of both Baek and Morrow (two Ks).
Will Ohman threw an easy-does-it 1-2-3 9th (three pop ups) to finish up.
BTW, Ryan Theriot played RF the final three innings, but no balls were hit his direction. Also, Felix Pie lined an opposite-field double into the LF corner (there must have been a baseball magnet down there today) in the 7th, for those of you who are worried that Pie can only hit singles.
The Cubs travel to Tucson Electric Park tomorrow (and Tucson is the south side--the Back of the Yards, if you will--of Arizona, for those of you unfamilar with the state's geography) to face the Chicago White Sox of Bridgeport, and Angel Guzman is scheduled to start for the Cubs in what should be his most important outing of the Spring (so far). Meanwhile, Mark Prior will pitch in a minor league intrasquad game at Fitch Park.